WWE – Payback 2015 (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray / DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 168 minutes approx.
Just three weeks after Extreme Rules the WWE took to PPV again for the third annual Payback event. As seems to be the trend of late, most of the matches presented on this card are return bouts from the previous show; one feud in fact is still ongoing from February!
At the risk of sounding cynical and disingenuous it doesn’t bode too well for an exciting show if nothing new is being laid out for us, and with very few of these rematches bolstered by a clause or gimmick, the potential for a pedestrian show appears even greater on paper. But WWE have surprised us before by delivering against low expectations so let’s see if they can do it again.
Taking place on May 17th 2015 at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland in front of approximately 10,000 fans, your commentators as always are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL, and while no results will be given away but expect some opinion.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus
Last month they had a “Kiss Me Arse” match; this month – no stipulation. Traditionally it should be the other way around but not in this case because WWE Creative fails to live up to its name again. Despite the hard work this was an average match, outside of Ziggler getting busted open hardway from a head butt leading to a hurried improvised finish.
WWE 2 Out Of 3 Falls Tag Title Match – The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd
After having the best match last month expectations were high for this rematch to repeat that feat. Unfortunately it would appear that someone (I wonder who?) doesn’t understand that 2/3 falls matches really need time to work. This was given just twelve minutes 40 seconds, (20 seconds longer than the previous match) and the first fall occurred inside the first three minutes. Despite this it was a fun and well worked match and the fans were into Kidd and Cesaro which is good to see. The final finish however….
Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback
Ever since being neutered by Cena last year Wyatt has been difficult to take seriously as a threat to anyone, and with no family to lead or any real direction, his stock and credibility has fallen dramatically. So, why not put him with archetypal musclehead Ryback? Dull match but rather hard-hitting, the highlight being Wyatt hitting a senton from the apron on Ryback and seemingly legit knocking the wind out of him. Amazingly Ryback hit a top rope splash later on.
WWE US Title I Quit Match – John Cena (c) vs. Rusev
This match – more than most – exemplifies how the protective booking of Cena turns fans against him. At the start ring announcer Eden Stiles says quite explicitly “The only way to win is to make your opponent LITERALLY say ‘I Quit’!”. Got that? “Literally” say “I quit”. While the match itself was almost 30 minutes and rather dull as result, the above “literal” rule was broken not once but twice just to protect Cena! So not only is Rusev’s career in ruins after this but so is the already flimsy goodwill towards stipulation matches in WWE.
The Bella Twins vs. Naomi & Tamina Snuka
The Bellas phantom face turn still has no explanation. Tamina’s returned after knee surgery a year ago to side with Naomi. This is a distant family relationship as Tamina married into the Anoai family (she’s since divorced her husband) while Naomi is married to Jimmy Uso, making them cousins-in-law or something. Again a solidly formulated match that wasn’t given enough time to be fully substantive as is par for the course for Divas matches of late. Naomi’s heel turn is a shake-up that hasn’t been properly realised yet and she still doesn’t feel comfortable in the ring in this persona.
Neville vs. King Barrett
Barret won the resurrected King Of The Ring tournament on the WWE Network so in true WWE fashion, he has been treated as a joke since, losing matches left right and centre. And Vince wonders why no-one can get over anymore. This is the former Adrian Neville’s WWE PPV debut, wowing fans with his athletic high flying style that saw him enjoy the longest reign as NXT champion. Sadly this match and its terrible finish did neither man any favours nor did it make any sense.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Fatal Four Way Match – Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose
As if we needed the feuding Authority gimmick to be prolonged beyond saturation point, a bonus stipulation was added to this match in which Kane would lose his job with the Authority if Rollins fails to win this match. So not only have they lumbered it with a further unnecessary clause they’ve pretty much given the result away too! Good match though although it fell to easily into the safe pattern of two guys working while the other sell on the outside with liberal interference from Kane and J&J Security. The highlight – for the fans – was the brief reunion of The Shield, the reaction to which signifying the split was way too soon.
If Extreme Rules left us fearing that the WWE had no new direction coming out of Wrestlemania 31 then Payback was confirmation. There is little forward momentum for anyone outside of the anointed few and even then, with the constant overexposure on weekly TV of the same matches of the same permutations, that is starting to feel stale too.
The problem lies in the same few people being protected in the booking while Cena – despite being moved down away from the main events – is still considered the cornerstone and top priority of the company. Worse still, they have been unable to find a worthy successor, either giving up too easily or Vince McMahon’s ever capricious and illogical decision making being the main problem.
Despite the hard work of the wrestlers, the show itself is basically an advert free episode of RAW at best, with less chat and throwaway silliness. Nothing to offensive but nothing of importance to see here either.
Best match – WWE Title Fatal Four Way Match
Payback Kick off Show – The Ascension vs. The Mega Powers
Kane Always Does What’s Best For Business
Neville Is Living Proof That Anything Is Possible
Monday Night Raw – April 27th 2015 – Ryback vs. Bo Dallas
Monday Night Raw – May 4th 2015 – Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins – If Ambrose Wins He Is Added To Payback Main Event
Smackdown – May 7th 2015 – WWE World Title Match Contract Signing
Monday Night Raw – May 11th 2015 – WWE US Title Match – John Cena (c) vs. Neville
Smackdown – May 14th 2015 – Rusev Will Make Cena Say “I Quit”!
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black