Hello all & welcome to Wrestling With Words’ coverage of WWE Payback 2016.
Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler
I missed this match unfortunately because I just got back home, but Ziggler pinned Corbin with a Schoolboy roll-up (WWE’s favorite finish these days). As with many of the new guys on the roster, I am baffled by the fact that they don’t let someone come in & actually look like a monster before dropping them down in the card and treating them like “just another guy”. In today’s WWE, everyone starts off as “just another guy” and they wonder why no one gets over at their start.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Kalisto (US Champion) vs Ryback
Ryback came out like he had something to prove, not giving Kalisto a moment to breath before tearing into him. Ryback just obliterated Kalisto at first, but then for every move that Ryback did, Kalisto seemed to have the answer.
Kalisto attempted a Salida Del Sol, which was reversed by Ryback into an attempted Shellshock reverse, which was again reversed into a roll-up by Kalisto, but Ryback was able to turn that into a Spinebuster for a nearfall.
Ryback then went to the ropes and Kalisto hit an Enziguri on him, which wobbled him a fair bit. Kalisto thought he had Ryback’s number, climbing up onto the ropes on a prone Ryback, but was Gorilla Press Slammed off the top rope. Ryback missed giant splash and Kalisto found the opportunity to hit that Salida Del Sol he had been waiting for. An absolute Hell of a match to get things going, and the crowd was on fire by the end of it. Hype levels are high going into the start of the main card.
Enzo & Big Cass vs The Vaudevillains
The WWE Tag Team Championship #1 Contender Tournament finals are tonight, and we are down to just two teams, so tonight we will see who goes on to face the winner. At over 250 days as champions, whoever wins the tournament is going to be in for a mighty challenge.
I’m not 100% sure what Enzo and Cass were on tonight, but they are always entertaining. When mentioning the Vaudevillains’ thoughts that they would win here tonight, Enzo said “If my aunt had hair on her back, she’d be my uncle.” Huh? Either way it was funny. Cass fared better, saying the Vaudevillains were “Flexing like you’re Arnold. More like Hey Arnold.”
Both teams showed they really wanted to be contenders, fighting with all they had. Enzo and Cass seemed to have the better teamwork between the 2 teams, doing many spots where Cass used Enzo as a projectile for force.
Gotch chunked Enzo out of the ring, Enzo hitting the bottom rope in a very awkward manner, the side of his skull making contact with the middle rope and knocking him out. The ref threw up the X and emergency personnel came out to help him. As jaded as I am as a fan, this is terrible to see, and under no circumstances did this feel like a work. I wish the best for Enzo and hope he is going to be OK coming out of this.
Winner: No Contest
(EDIT: during the Zayn vs KO match, commentary announced that while Enzo was on the way to a local hospital for evaluation, he was at least talking and moving his extremities. This is obviously great news as everyone is legitimately concerned for his well being. Hopefully we will continue to get more news as it comes in.)
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
This is a match that has more history than probably any other, going back over a decade to Ring Of Honor, when Kevin Steen and El Generico (as they were known at the time) started their series of matches that has spanned multiple promotions and incarnations over the years.
After what happened with Enzo, I am personally not nearly ready for this, but here we are. As much as I’ve been waiting for this match, it is hard to focus on knowing that Enzo just got seriously injured, so I apologize in advance if the coverage of this match is lacking.
Both men appeared to be on fire, full of energy and making things very personal. A Blue Thunder Bomb by Zayn was reversed by Owens, and KO got a MASSIVE Frogsplash on Zayn that Eddie Guerrero has to be looking down and smiling at. KO hit Sami with 2 Cannonballs that he tried to finish with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Zayn was able to hit him with a Dropkick to knock Owens back with. Pop-Up Powerbomb reversed to a roll-up, and Zayn ran the top of the ropes to jump off, but Owens drove Zayn into his knee. Owens screamed at him to stay down, but Sami wasn’t going to do that. Owens tried to Powerbomb Zayn on the ring apron, but he reversed it into a Backdrop. Zayn hit the running DDT through the ropes onto Owens on the floor, which got a huge pop from the crowd.
Just when you thought Zayn had Owens’ number with a Helluva kick, Owens hit a Superkick and a Pop-Up Powerbomb for the pin. What a match, despite being distracted by the events of the last match through no fault of either man. Looking forward to this feud going 10 more years.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Post-match, Owens demanded that Byron come into the match and whispered something into his ear. Byron asked him if this was the end of the feud, which was apparently not what he was supposed to ask, but said that not only did he finish Sami, end the feud, but he also said he was ready to refocus on what he should have been concentrating on, which was getting the Intercontinental Title from The Miz. He invited himself to do commentary on the next match, which just so happens to be The Miz vs Cesaro.
The Miz (c) (with Maryse) vs Cesaro (Intercontinental Championship)
The crowd is so behind Cesaro, who got a huge pop from the crowd and numerous “Cesaro!” chants throughout the match. With KO on commentary, this storyline is getting proper focus and feels important. Cesaro has been on a heck of a roll since making his way back from his injury, looking like the absolute star I’ve known he was for the last decade. He looks so natural in his movements, engages the crowd, has uncanny strength and is one of the best guys on the roster from a technical aspect. The Miz has had a great 2016, turning many of his detractors (myself included) into believers.
There was lots of back and forth in this match, including a Skull Crushing Finale from The Miz that Cesaro kicked out of. There was a Big Swing by Cesaro that went anywhere between 4 and 20 rotations (depending on if you believe the audience can remotely count).
The match was heating up as Sami Zayn ran out to an incredible ovation and pummeled Owens. They spilled over the announce table and into the crowd, which distracted Cesaro and the ref, just as The Miz was tapping out. Owens and Zayn made their way to the ring apron, contuing to throw punches, and Cesaro lunged toward them to knock them off the apron, leading to his demise as Miz got in a sneaky pin. After the match, Owens attacked Miz, Zayn attacked Owens, Cesaro attacked Owens, Miz got the Hell out of Dodge, and Owens picked up the title that Miz left in the middle of the ring and held it up to the sky.
Winner: The Miz
Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho
Dean got nasty early on, elbowing Jericho to his dome. Jericho got charged up by this, Backdropping Ambrose out of the ring. Jericho played dirty, clinging onto the ref, waiting for Ambrose to grab him, then back elbowed him, taking control from there. Ambrose tried fighting his way out, but Jericho Dropkicked him to ground him. followed by a Slingshot under the ropes to Ambrose’s throat. He stretched Dean with a Chickenwing and when Dean tried to get out, Jericho kicked him in the small of the back to ground him again. Dean was able to get his “wacky” offense in, chopping, punching & elbowing Jericho before hitting him with a Tornado DDT off the ropes. A technical master he isn’t, but it was effective.
Jericho hit Ambrose with a top rope Axehandle and an attempt to a Walls of Jericho, but Ambrose was able to power through, hitting Jericho with a Swinging Neckbreaker. This match has been a total trainwreck and even commentary is acknowledging it, saying it looks like Ambrose “just makes things up as he goes”, and that his moves “kind of make sense” in continuity. Ambrose tried to hit an elbow off the top, but Jericho moved and locked him in a Walls Of Jericho in the middle of the ring. Ambrose knuckled up and was able to get the break, but the damage was done.
Things spilled out to the German announce table, where every move hurts more apparently. Jericho shot Ambrose off the table and Ambrose crawled back to the ring just under the 10 count. Dean hit Jericho with a “wacky” elbow and almost got a pin, then he climbed up to the top rope only to be knocked off by Jericho. This repeated in various incarnations several times until Jericho reversed a Dirty Deeds attempt to a Walls of Jericho. Somewhere along the way, Jericho’s nose got cut up and he started to bleed (thankfully this did not end up having any effect on the match). Jericho hit an Enziguri for another attempt, but Dean still had it in him to kick out.
I’m pretty sure Jericho whispered that he was going to commit heinous sex acts on Dean, because it seemed like he found his third wind afterwards, Jericho trying got hit a Lionsault but Dean countering and putting Chris in a Chickenwing then hitting a Dirty Deeds to finish him.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs Natalya (with Bret Hart)
This could be a big night for the newly-rechristened Women’s division, and Nattie and Charlotte have proven in the past that they have what it takes to deliver a very solid match. Their face-offs aren’t always consistent, but at least in the NXT days they had some barn burners.
Things were very back and forth at first, high octane. It picked up even more at the German Release Suplex by Natalya and a run across Charlotte’s back to a double Dropkick to her face. Holy shit. Charlotte didn’t like that at all, deciding to ground her by taking out her leg and dropping repeated knees. Charlotte then took Natalya’s leg and dropped down to split her.
Charlotte then put Natalya in a Half Crab, furthering the damage. She continued on the leg, kicking it from under Natalya, then hit a Suplex on the leg for good measure. Charlotte climbed to the top, but Natalya shoved her, causing her to fly hard to the ground ringside. Charlotte recovered, throwing Natalya out of the ring to lock eyes with Gollum Flair, who kept Natalya distracted. Nattie tried to hit a Discus Punch on Charlotte as she climbed back in, but Charlotte was able to counter. Natalya tried to get Charlotte in a Sharpshooter despite her bad leg, but Charlotte was too strong and got out quickly, causing Natalya to get planted face-first.
Charlotte climbed to the top ropes and hit a Moonsault on Natalya which took her breath completely out of her body, but she was still able to kick out. Charlotte tried getting Natalya in a submission, but Nattie just refused to tap. Charlotte finally rolled her in a reversal and Natalya was quick to release it. Charlotte got Natalya in a Sharpshooter and the bell immediately rang. It’s Montreal 1997 all over again. Bret and Nattie both said fuck that, and they got both Ric and Charlotte in double Sharpshooters. What a shit way to finish that match. Whoever booked this one can go fuck his or herself. I give up.
Vince came out to rub in the face of the crowd that he controls the puppet strings, and a massive “CM Punk!” chant broke out. After that last finish, I’m totally behind the crowd wanting to hijack the show, and I hope that Vince realizes how much he just shit all over this PPV. With every word, the crowd chanted “What?!?”, and when Vince brought Stephanie out, the chorus of boos was deafening. Even while she was trying to talk about all that they have done as a company over the last couple of years, every single thing she said was met with boos. Even the WWE Network mention got booed. What a turn on an otherwise very good PPV (with the exception of the Enzo injury and the last finish) took. This crowd has completely become disconnected. Even Shane couldn’t save this crap segment that ended in Vince saying that both Shane AND Stephanie will be running Raw for now. So a reverse-brand split? Uggh.
Before the match started, we got some more good news about Enzo, saying that he has been diagnosed with a concussion, but all other tests came back as negative. Considering the circumstances, this was about the best possible outcome we could have gotten, so I am thankful for that. He is not out of the woods completely as anyone (like myself) who has had to deal with concussions can attest to, but this is a great sign at least.
Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles (World Heavyweight Championship)
My god, this crowd hates Reigns. Chicago has never been a city to stay silent (as witnessed during that last segment) and they are letting the world know that they are here to support AJ Styles and to see Reigns walk out of this match without his title.
Both AJ & Roman were clearly going out tonight knowing that they have to win this crowd back over, as they were turning it into high gear. Within the first few minutes of the match, we got a
I was about to turn in my WWE viewing card just as Shane O Mac walked out, proclaiming that in the “old WWE”, that’s how the match would end, but in the NEW WWE, nah ah. He proclaims this is now a no countout match, but even that got screwed when Reigns hit AJ with a low blow that got him DQ’d. Of course, as expected, Steph came out to save the day and announce that this is now a no-DQ match as well. Cue the Good Brothers/Bullet Club/whatever we want to call them this week.
Roman hit AJ with 2 Superman Punches and was preparing to set up the Spear when Gallows and Anderson ran out and pulled AJ out of the ring, then put Roman in a rack and kicked him into oblivion before running out of the ring, all the while AJ was on the ground out of it. At this point, the Ussos came running out to even the odds, the match in the ring still going on. AJ climbed to the top rope, but Roman pushed AJ off and into the 4 men on the outside.
In all the fracas, Roman went outside and AJ hit him with another Phenomenal Forearm and a Springboard Shooting Star to a Styles Clash attempt that was ducked by Roman. Roman hit a Superman punch on AJ and sealed the deal. At least for tonight, Roman isn’t just A guy, he’s THE guy. I just threw up a little typing that. Apologies.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Overall, this was a really solid show, but the negatives were so strong that I am left with a bad taste in my mouth. The obvious black cloud over the night was the Enzo injury, and I continue to send positive thoughts his way in his recovery from his concussion. The idiotic ending of the Women’s match still infuriates me. The pointless nothing of the non-brand split. The hokey “the match has ended/no it hasn’t/yes it has/no it hasn’t” thing on the main event. None of this makes a person want to stay engaged in the current product. There was so much good in the show, but when you purposely tell your audience that none of this matters, then why should they stay invested? I’d like to say that I was excited for this “new era” of WWE, but that would be a lie.