If you ever need proof that Payback is a filler PPV, just look at the women’s matches that were used here. Not very often do I get to review an Alicia Fox match for this series. So, let’s see how they hold up against other PPVs.
WWE Divas Championship: Kaitlyn (c) vs. AJ LeePayback 2013
I completely tuned out of WWE at this time and managed to miss the entire Divas Championship reign of Kaitlyn, so this is first time viewing for me. I’ve always felt that Kaitlyn as champion was a rather odd choice and pretty rushed. Remember when Big E was nothing more than just a bodyguard for AJ Lee? I wonder how he feels about eventually being replaced by Tamina. It’s so weird now to hear AJ’s music rattle through my ears, I got so used to hearing it at one point due to how overused she became yet now it’s like something I’ve never heard previously. I’m surprised at how well this match started out. AJ got thrown over the top of the announce table, with one of the announcers attempting to break her fall. This is something that at the time you didn’t see in women’s matches, or at least not very often. Kaitlyn just beats the hell out of her both in and out of the ring, looking more like a bar brawl than a match. AJ would often look as if she was just going through the motions in the ring, but because this was pretty early into her career somewhat, you can see that she was far more into what she’s doing here compared to her final year in WWE. Kaitlyn removed AJ’s belt but she would soon regret it as she’s the one who ended up getting hit with it while the referee was fixing the ring apron that AJ moved. The first appearance of the Black Widow quickly followed but Kaitlyn got out of it hitting a backbreaker and a spear. People should really learn to stop running into the turnbuckle, the spot has been done so often you’d think people would realize it’s a bad idea, but Kaitlyn does it anyway. That spells the end of the match as AJ once again locks in the Black Widow with Kaitlyn tapping out this time. AJ not only wins the match but becomes Divas Champion for the first time. This match lasted a lot longer than I expected it to but was a good indicator to the change the division was undergoing and would eventually achieve with the women’s evolution.
WWE Divas Championship: Paige (c) vs. Alicia FoxPayback 2014
I recall this match fairly well strictly from memory without watching it back, but I’m going to watch it anyway. This was when AJ Lee was taking some time off after WrestleMania 30 and Paige won the Divas Championship the next night. It’s also when Alicia Fox went around throwing drinks all over herself and acting like a mad woman. Editor’s note: Stone Cold Alicia Fox! There was a very clear shift from what Paige was in NXT compared to what she became once she hit the main roster, and you can see it here slightly with the way she’s almost thinking before she does anything. The main roster jitters must have been very real. Alicia is a solid opponent for your second PPV appearance however, she leads Paige through it very easily, while having multiple temper tantrums throughout. There’s a lack of any form of pace towards the end of the match while Alicia is in control, she repeated the same move twice to the same outcome of Paige kicking out. That’s when the crowd also got bored with this and were ready for the finish. Once Paige started her comeback, things started to pick back up again and then it ended, Alicia tapped out to the PTO. That’s still a god awful name for that submission. I don’t know if this bad because I did enjoy it, it’s just nothing worth shouting home about. Both did their best with the lack of time they were given and tried clearly to tap into the crazy character that Alicia had for like three weeks. Both have had far better matches than this.
The Bella Twins (Nikki Bella & Brie Bella) vs. Naomi & Tamina SnukaPayback 2015
For some reason, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the timeline of when this match happened. I had to look it up to figure out how many PPV’s were between this and the eventual team vs. team vs. team storyline that the women’s division had going on for a little while. I finally realized it’s around the same time that Nikki started to work more tag matches due to her neck injury, which explains why this was made instead of her defending the Divas title. I’ve previously praised Brie’s ability to sell every move as if she’s legitimately being killed, and there’s possibly the best proof of that in this match as Tamina superkicks her off the apron. I wish we could go back to heel Naomi, it was a better time, a happier time. She just dropped Brie on her head but her personality is coming through so much better here than it does today with this “feel the glow” thing she’s running with. You can also see the difference with Nikki in-ring wise pre-surgery compared to everything post-return, but that’s to be expected after you wrestle with a broken neck. After pulling Nikki off the top rope Naomi picked up the win, while Tamina was busy throwing Brie into the barricade on the outside. For a six minute match, a lot happened here. Brie got killed throughout, Naomi had bundles of personality, Nikki and Tamina were there too. Not the best performance from any of these women but an okay tag match.
WWE Raw Women's Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. NatalyaPayback 2016
A callback or attempt at a copy job of their great match at the very first NXT TakeOver event, these two have Ric Flair and Bret Hart at ringside because family is super important and the only thing that matters in this feud apparently. “My uncle is Bret Hart” … “My dad is Ric Flair” — both sentences I never wish to hear again. I wish this weren’t true, but here is yet another case of a match finish ruining what could have potentially been a great match. I can only just about deal with the fact that they used Bret and Ric for this, but re-doing the Montreal Screwjob was just pushing it too far. I understand that it’s one of those moments in WWE history that will forever be brought up and glamorized whether negatively or positively, but just stop it. Stop repeating history when it doesn’t need to be redone. I was about to write about how Charlotte targeting Natalya’s leg throughout the match was brilliant, but realizing now what it lead to, I can’t help but sigh a little. So yeah, Charlotte put Nattie in the Figure Four Leglock but she reversed it, Charlotte dodged a bullet by grabbing the rope. Charlotte followed up with the Sharpshooter and the referee rang the bell even though Natalya didn’t tap. Hopefully creative don’t try to pull this one out of their little bag of tricks anytime soon because boy did it ruin the whole feel of the match.
With the recent superstar shake up behind us, the women’s division from both brands has received a shiny reset button. But one thing you can expect is the Sasha Banks and Bayley story to continue on from where they left off prior to Alexa Bliss interrupting them on RAW. The women’s matches from the PPV this year could go two ways. First, a tag team match with Banks and Bayley teaming up once again to take on Bliss and Nia Jax. Or, you have Sasha vs. Alexa and Bayley takes on Nia alone. Either way, RAW must get this reset right instead of diving head first into the inevitable Banks heel turn. If they go with the tag team option, we could see Emma and Dana Brooke facing off at Payback too.