WrestleMania is now in the rear-view mirror and it's time for the WWE Universe to switch their focus to what is now the beginning of the build up to SummerSlam.
The WWE Shakeup a few weeks ago has left Payback as a pay-per-view that includes both SmackDown and Raw Superstars as they attempt to finish the storylines that boiled over after WrestleMania almost a month ago.
Going into Payback this weekend, it seems that Kevin Owens versus Chris Jericho for the United States Championship could well be the biggest and most personal match on the card.
Of course, as expected the card is stacked coming off what was a thoroughly entertaining WrestleMania event. Payback will shape the Raw roster moving forward into the Summer season and allow SmackDown stars who are involved in it to move on and prepare for Backlash in a month's time.
Ahead of the show on Sunday night, here are 15 of the boldest predictions for the first WWE pay-per-view since WrestleMania.
15. Finn Balor Will Play His Part In The Event
Finn Balor made his first WWE TV appearance since the night after SummerSlam last year when he partnered Seth Rollins on the Raw after WrestleMania a few weeks ago. It was then reported that Finn had suffered a concussion in his match with Jinder Mahal a week later, but Finn was cleared in time to face Curt Hawkins last week on Raw.
This week Finn once again helped Seth Rollins in a Six-Man Tag match, but while Rollins and Big Cass both have matches this Sunday, Finn has been forgotten. It will be interesting to see if Finn's Miz TV appearance could well lead to a match or at least a moment that makes Finn more part of the show than he currently is.
14. Seth Rollins Will Come Out On Top Against Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe almost cost Seth Rollins his match at WrestleMania. He almost cost him his chance for both revenge and redemption and that has made this match a deeply personal one. Joe is the man who has come in and replaced Seth Rollins and it seems as though he is doing a much better job than The Architect did.
Rollins can't be happy about the fact that he has been replaced and over the past few weeks Joe has always had the upper-hand. This is now Seth's chance for Payback and Seth's chance to prove that Triple H's destroyer can't destroy him.
13. Dean Ambrose Will Be On The Show In Some Form
A Raw pay-per-view without the Universal Champion is bad enough, but given the reports about many of the WWE executives thinking that Dean Ambrose is lazy and complacent, it makes sense that he isn't part of Payback either.
Ambrose is the Intercontinental Champion and he deserves to defend his title on pay-per-view. Recently he has been feuding with The Miz ever since they made the switch over from SmackDown together, so hopefully, the episode of Miz TV on the kickoff show could mean that there will inevitably be a chance for Dean to make an appearance, but WWE need to stop relegating their champion to the pre-show.
12. Enzo And Cass Will Finally Get The Upperhand Against Gallows And Anderson
Enzo and Cass have had a back and forth with Luke Gallow and Karl Anderson now that has been going on for months. At one point all four stars met as they fought it out for the Tag Team Championship. Sadly, this match doesn't have the titles involved this time around, which explains why it's been relegated to the pre-show.
There is a lot of speculation about the future of both of these tag teams and their positions in WWE by SummerSlam, but given a number of times that Gallows and Anderson have defeated Enzo and Cass, it feels as though it could finally be time for The Certified G and his seven foot friend to take the advantage.
11. There Will Be More Than One Pre-Show Match
Let's be honest: any match that is relegated to the kickoff show is one that WWE are not thinking about going forward. It is usually one that they feel doesn't have enough of a backing to be part of the main show.
Enzo and Cass have been pushed down onto the kickoff show this time because their battle with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson is no longer one that includes the Tag Team Championship. It is highly unlikely that this will be the only pre-show match as WWE like to add in a few surprises. There could well be an additional match which could include The Miz, Dean Ambrose, and Finn Balor.
10. Jim Ross Will Return To Call The Show
David Otunga was switched over to Raw as part of the Superstar Shakeup but it was then announced that he would be away for a few weeks filming a new movie. This has allowed Booker T to step in and commentate on Raw in his absence.
It was reported a few days ago that Jim Ross had signed a deal with WWE that would see him return to the commentary desk on certain occasions and this would be a perfect one. Let's be honest, no one wants Booker T on commentary, we want the team of JR and Jerry Lawler, but we would settle for a return of Jim Ross even if he only covers the main event.
9. Kurt Angle Will Be In Command With Steph Remaining Absent
Kurt Angle has been an ever present fixture on WWE TV ever since he was inducted into the 2017 Hall of Fame. The night after WrestleMania it was announced that Angle was the new General Manager of Raw and since then he has been running the show without Stephanie since she was put through a table at WrestleMania.
Angle has done a good job on Raw when it comes to asserting his authority. He has much more chance of controlling the show than Mick Foley ever had and it is evident that he was a great choice. This will be his first pay-per-view in control though, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it.
8. The Miz And Maryse Will Be Part Of The Show
Miz TV has already been announced to be part of the pre-show on the WWE Network and streaming live on both YouTtube and Facebook, but even though The Miz has to have been one of the biggest moves of the Superstar Shakeup, it seems that the Raw roster are not ready for him to do anything other than playing his part as an interviewer.
The Miz has opened up a feud with Dean Ambrose in recent weeks and it is a shock that an Intercontinental Championship match hasn't been announced between the duo yet. The Miz will instead be talking to Finn Balor on the pre-show, which will unsurprisingly turn into some kind of match or at least turn physical between the two.
7. Sasha Will Play Her Part In The Women's Match
Sasha Banks needs to understand that the Women's Championship picture has moved on without her. Charlotte has gone to SmackDown and Bayley is the champion now so she needs to stop interfering in things that are not her business.
Bayley has managed to retain the title before without Sasha's help and she should be able to do the same on Sunday. But the build up has made it quite obvious that Sasha will once again be making her presence known, which is unfair to people like Alexa who could probably easily prevail in this match if it was a fair fight. Hopefully, Mickie James comes to Alexa's aid or at least helps to even the odds.
6. Bray Wyatt Will Defeat Randy Orton
One of the biggest shocks at WrestleMania was when Bray Wyatt lost his WWE Championship to Randy Orton and in turn, The Viper became a thirteen-time World Champion. Even though Bray was moved over to Raw as part of the Superstar Shakeup the feud between the two former family members has continued, and it ends this Sunday night.
The WWE Championship is no longer on the line in this match because it has to remain on SmackDown, which means that Bray Wyatt could finally get the revenge he seeks after Orton burned down his Family Compound. The House of Horrors match is one that the WWE Universe hasn't seen before and could well be one of the highlights of the show.
5. Bayley Will Retain The Women's Championship
Somehow Bayley is still the Raw Women's Champion. And even though she hasn't done much over the past few months, it seems too soon to allow Alexa Bliss to pick up the championship. Especially considering she only dropped the SmackDown Women's Championship three weeks ago.
This feud has the ability to go through a slow burn process if WWE allows it, but it will probably be a case of Sasha Banks getting involved again and costing Alexa her chance instead. Someone needs to take Sasha out and give her something new to focus on, she doesn't need to be in the Women's title picture anymore.
4. The Hardy Boyz Will Retain The Tag Team Championships
Matt and Jeff Hardy were the biggest shock of WrestleMania when they arrived in Orlando and took the Raw Tag Team Championship home with them. But it seems former champions Cesaro and Sheamus are the challenge that stands in their way as they prepare for their first pay-per-view title defence on Sunday night.
The last few weeks have shown that these two teams are on the same page and that two face teams can have an intriguing feud. But it would be interesting if this Sunday night was the night The Hardys turned heel and brought in the Broken gimmick instead of what WWE are obviously building as a turn for Cesaro and Sheamus.
3. Braun Strowman Will Once Again Dominate Roman Reigns
Braun Strowman is WWE's newest monster. He flipped an ambulance and then he threw a Cruiserweight into a dumpster and off a stage. He also managed to Superplex one of the heaviest Superstars in WWE off the top rope. WWE can't push Strowman any higher than they are right now and even Roman Reigns can't stand in his way anymore.
Reigns has been off WWE TV since the attack which happened just a week after Roman defeated The Undertaker. Roman will return to WWE afresh, but hopefully it won't be Roman who walks out with a clean win like the last time these two heavyweights met. Braun deserves to dominate Reigns once again.
2. Austin Aries Will Win The Cruiserweight Championship
Austin Aries has been one of the most exciting stars to watch on WWE TV over the past few months and his feud with Neville has been one of the reasons why. 205 Live needed the boost that Aries has given it and it seems that now could be the time for him to rightfully take the title from Neville.
Neville has done so much for the Cruiserweight Division and there is no doubt that he is the King of the Cruiserweights. But it might be time for another king to be given a chance and allow Neville to chase the prize once again. Aries has a history of being a champion and he could well be exactly what the Cruiserweights need right now.
1. Kevin Owens Will Retain The United States Championship
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens have had one of the most personal and exciting rivalries that WWE has ever created. From best friends to bitter enemies, these two have grabbed the WWE Universe's attention for the best part of a year, but now it seems it has finally come down to this.
Jericho and Owens collide over the United States Championship with the winner heading over to SmackDown. Personally, it seems that Jericho could be heading off on tour with his band and that Owens will take the rub of the win into what could be a great feud between himself and AJ Styles on the SmackDown brand. It will be a great ending to the feud and a great note for Jericho to sign off on. Owens deserves to win this after being such a huge part of the feud for the past few months.
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