WWE Payback (2016) Review

Coming off a disappointing build and ultimately disappointing event of WrestleMania 32, WWE had to rebound with a great event with Payback. The buildup was certainly better than that of 'Mania, as WWE started it with a great Fatal-4-Way no.1 contender's match on RAW the night after 'Mania. AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and a returning Cesaro to earn a WWE World Title shot against Roman Reigns. The buildup has included Styles' old buddies Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson making their way to WWE and teasing a Bullet Club reunion with Styles.

Another highly anticipated storyline in the past few weeks has been Shane McMahon running RAW, despite losing his match to The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Vince first gave Shane a one-time shot, but has kept his son in charge despite the stipulation that Shane would be banished from WWE with a WrestleMania loss. With this event, we've now found out who Vince will have running RAW going forward.

How about Charlotte and Natalya going at it for the Women's Championship? With Ric Flair and Bret Hart in their respective corners, did this match live up to their NXT TakeOver classic in 2014?

We also got Sami Zayn against Kevin Owens in a one-on-one match. Did you ever think you'd see that on a WWE pay-per-view?

To round out the card, we had Miz against Cesaro for the IC title, Ambrose taking on Y2J, and the final of the tag team tournament. Both teams of Enzo & Cass and The Vaudevillains making their WWE PPV debut? Yes please. Oh and in case you cared, Kalisto against Ryback on the preshow, as well as Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin who were bumped down.

Event Card (in no particular order):

 Kickoff Show:

- United States Championship

Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback

- Singles Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Main Card:

Tag Team No.1 Contenders' Tournament Final:

Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains

- Singles Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho

- Intercontinental Championship

The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro

- Singles Match

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

- Women's Championship

Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya

- WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles

How did the show play out? Did we get some redemption from the draining marathon that was WrestleMania? We discuss that here.

@baroncorbinwwe kicks off #WWEPayback against @heelziggler! #WWENetwork #WWE

A photo posted by WWE (@wwe) on

In what wasn't much of a surprise at all, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler were bumped from the main card. Despite Ziggler's ability to make simple moves look better, Corbin's pace just brought down the quality of the match. Ziggler sold Corbin's offense like crazy, but the crowd wasn't really into this match. Corbin dominated most of the match and you thought Ziggler would be the sacrificial lamb yet again. In a surprising twist though, Ziggler caught Corbin by surprise with a roll-up for the win.

Very surprising that Corbin's undefeated streak didn't go longer, but it was a nice surpise to see Ziggler get a win.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Match Rating: 4/10

@kalistowwe prepares to defend his #USTitle right now on the #WWEPayback Kickoff show!

Ah, a pre-show match between these two for the second month in a row. At least the David vs. Goliath narrative makes sense with these two. This bout was a similar display to their WrestleMania pre-show encounter with Kalisto using speed and agility while Ryback was all power. Overall, this was a pretty good match. The two had better chemistry than their encounter a month ago.

They pulled off a great ending where Ryback hit a Military Press Slam off the second rope, but missed a knee drop from the top. Kalisto followed it up with a Salida Del Sol for the win.

Side note: Major props to Ryback for his hilarious "The Pre-Show Stopper" slogan on the back of his belt.

Winner: Kalisto

Match Rating: 6.5/10

Referee stops the match. Medical personnel attend to the injured @WWEAaLLday21. #WWEPayback

— WWE (@WWE) May 2, 2016

This match never really got going, as early in the match, Enzo Amore bounced into the ropes and fell straight back into the mat. Amore was tossed into the ropes and his head bounced off the second rope and he fell straight back onto the mat. It was a scary moment as the referee threw up the "X" sign and Amore was stretchered out as Big Cass looked on concerned. This was no work, as the move in no way looked planned. No winner was announced, as the match was called off. Let's hope Enzo Amore is okay.

Winner: No Contest

Match Rating: N/A

A man possessed. #KevinOwens is on the hunt for the #ICTitle! #WWEPayback #WWE

There haven't been many highly anticipated grudge matches like this in a while. These two have so much history and this is surely the first of many WWE matches together. Zayn started off the match on a fast pace, but Owens soon took over, building heat like only KO can. The two exchanged plenty of near falls, including off of a Blue Thunder Bomb and a Frog Splash by Owens. The crowd was invested in this match. What else would you expect from a Chicago crowd?

After going for the Helluva Kick, Owens countered with a super kick, and followed it up with a Pop Up Powerbomb for the 1-2-3. (Wow, the ended it with one finisher?)

Good match between the two and it's likely the first of many more. It felt like they were saving some of their best stuff for the coming months.

After the match, Kevin Owens demanded an interview with Byron Saxton. He then said this victory settles the debate; he is better than Zayn. He also said he's now focusing on regaining his Intercontinental Championship. He then joined the commentary team.

Winner: Kevin Owens

Match Rating: 7.5/10

The #ICTitle Champion @mikethemiz brings his prize the ring with @therealmaryseouellet! #WWEPayback #WWE

A photo posted by WWE (@wwe) on

Fans groaned a few weeks ago when The Miz ended Zack Ryder's title reign after one day. Kevin Owens really added something as a guest commentator, completely outperforming the full-time announcers. The Miz used most of his offense to attack Cesaro's previously injured shoulder. Cesaro then used his power to fight The Miz off and followed it up with a series of uppercuts and a running dropkick.

After a Skull Crushing Finale, Zayn ran to ringside and attacked Owens at the announce table. In midst of that chaos, Cesaro forced a tapout with a crossface, but the referee was distracted by the the Zayn/Owens brawl. Miz then rolled up Cesaro for the win off the distraction.

Winner: The Miz (c)

Match Rating: 6.5/10


Would Dean Ambrose win his first PPV match of 2016? Jericho works so much better as a heel and some of his work in this match justified it. Heelish antics included trying to buy time on the outside and hiding by the referee yelling "he's killing me!"

After several attempts, Y2J clamped on the Walls of Jericho, but Ambrose was able to crawl to the ropes. Ambrose was then able to turn the tables and hit a suicide dive. On the outside, Ambrose looked for Dirty Deeds on the announce table, but Jericho countered it, catapulting Ambrose into the timekeeper's area. After beating a 10-count into the ring, they had a great exchange of offense, before Jericho locked on the Walls of Jericho again, only for Ambrose to escape the hold with a small package counter.

Ambrose was able to counter a Code Breaker into a Dirty Deeds to win. Yes, Ambrose won a PPV match! It's a miracle!

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Match Rating: 8.5/10

@natbynature heads to the ring with a little extra protection, #WWE Hall of Famer @brethitmanhart! #WomensTitle #WWEPayback

Adding Ric Flair and Bret Hart was a great call as the women are now getting a brighter spotlight than ever. The door was open here for the women to get some time to put on a good match.

Charlotte spent much of the match working on Natalya's leg, often pandering to the crowd and calling out Bret. Charlotte got most of the offense in. Natalya fought like a resilient babyface, but the narrative of the match seemed to be to put Charlotte over the whole way through. Charlotte hit Natural Selection and a moonsault, but Natalya kicked out of both. Charlotte then locked Natalya in a Figure Four, but Natalya broke the hold.

Charlotte then locked on the Sharpshooter and the ref yelled for the timekeeper to ring the bell. Yep, another re-enactment of the Montreal Screwjob. The Hitman then went into the ring and knocked Flair down, while Natalya took Charlotte down. The Harts then locked the Flairs in simultaneous Sharpshooters.

This was nowhere close to their NXT TakeOver classic a couple of years ago.

Why the hell did we get yet another re-enactment of Montreal?

Winner: Charlotte (c)

Match Rating: 6/10


Stipulations, schmipulations. Well, at least that's what WWE's motto appears to be. Despite losing at WrestleMania, Shane McMahon has been running RAW for the last month. Vince McMahon then came out to announce who would be running the show going forward. Right on cue, as Vince came out to cut his promo the crowd delivered deafening "CM Punk" chants.

Stephanie began her promo and Vince and as she was booed out of the building, Vince brought out 'crazy old Vince' to defend his daughter. Stephanie talked herself up and tore Shane down. Finally, Shane interrupted a dragging Stephanie promo and got a great pop. Shane pointed to all the change he's brought to RAW and all the great press the show has gotten over the past month.

Vince then had his say and said he wouldn't listen to anybody. Vince then said he wanted blood and wanted to see them rip each other's throats. He announced both his kids would have equal power in running RAW.

Looks like we're in for an interesting few months. This is likely going to build to a Triple H vs. Shane McMahon match for control of the company.

Segment Rating: 7/10

@ajstylesp1 heads into his first #WWEChampionship match against #RomanReigns! #WWEPayback

A photo posted by WWE (@wwe) on

Well, the WWE did it. They managed to have us eagerly awaiting a Roman Reigns match. Maybe AJ Styles had something to do with it.

Boy, this crowd was brutal on Reigns from the get go with deafening boos and "you can't wrestle" chants starting in the opening minutes. The two bided their time for a while, exchanging very little offense in the opening minutes.

Reigns eventually got the better of Styles using his power, and took control with a sit down powerbomb. He looked for a Superman Punch next but Styles countered with a kick. He then used his fast paced offense to take control of the match.

With Reigns on the outside, Styles hit a Phenomenal Forearm from the top rope and drove Reigns through the announce table. In a seemingly disappointing ending, as Styles made it back into the ring but Reigns was counted out.

Shane McMahon then came out and said in this new era, championship matches wouldn't end that way and restarted the match with no countouts. With the match restarted, they exchanged some more offense before Reigns accidentally low blowed Styles, getting disqualified. Stephanie then came out and one-upped her brother, by restarting the match again, with no DQs.

This all seemed to be setting the stage for Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to interfere...

Reigns hit a Superman Punch then seemed to be setting up for a spear, but sure enough, Gallows and Anderson came out to attack Reigns, hitting the Boom of Doom. Styles capitalized, hitting the Phenomenal Forearm, but Reigns got his foot on the rope.

The Usos then came out to even the odds, but they were booed by the smarky Chicago crowd. Reigns then cleared the chaos by tossing Styles off the top into the melee. After kicking out of a Phenomenal Forearm and 450 splash, Styles went for the Styles Clash, only for Reigns to escape it, and hit a spear for the win.

Way to get our hopes up WWE. Another unimaginative ending. Super Reigns wins again. There were good spots and Styles was indeed phenomenal, but there was still plenty not to like.

Vince then spoke with his kids backstage, congratulating them on a job well done, while Shane and Stephanie agreed to give Styles a rematch at Extreme Rules.

Winner: Roman Reigns (c)

Match Rating: 7/10

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