Turnbuckle Radio hosts Trevor Robb and Brian Swane give their thoughts and predictions for tonight’s WWE Payback PPV, which goes live from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
Preshow: Kalisto vs. Ryback
B: Wait, these guys are still feuding? You wouldn’t know it from watching Raw or Smackdown, or even Main Event for that matter. I guess it’s fitting they’re on the pre-show, as ridiculous as it may be to have a title match in such a slot. Kalisto’s push seems to have been aborted, and he’s already beaten Ryback a couple times, so I figure the Big Guy gets his payback (see what I did there?) here.
T: I’ll give WWE credit in allowing Kalisto and Ryback to work a lengthy program that has spanned more than two months, but ultimately does anyone care? The Little Man and The Big Guy are telling the same story – if not the only story – WWE seems to know how to book when it comes to using undersized talent. Kalisto and Sin Cara are arguably better as the Lucha Dragons, and Ryback needs a win here tonight.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
B: Corbin’s big push started at Mania with his win in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, so it would make zero sense to have him lose his first PPV singles match, especially to a mid-carder extraordinaire such as Ziggler.
T: As Brian knows fully well, I had been calling for Baron Corbin’s debut for quite some time now, full knowing that his presence on the mic is lacking. But it doesn’t matter with him. He has size, he has attitude and he was one hell of a finisher in the End of Days – which is apt considering his opponent.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
B: Amborse continues to be, in my humble opinion, the most consistently entertaining guy in WWE right now. The Amborse Asylum replacing the Highlight Reel has provided some hysterical moments from “The Lunatic Fringe” — I still haven’t stopped laughing at his threat to turn “Bon Jovi into Meatloaf.” Ambrose has endured a slump in recent PPVs, so if there’s any justice in “the universe”, he’ll make good on that threat.
T: While echoing everything Brian has mentioned with Ambrose, I have to give some love to Jericho. This guy is an ageless wonder and when he’s on his game as a heel Jericho has proven he’s still one of the top guys in the business. For a guy known for being a pro and putting over talent, Jericho picked up a massive win at Wrestlemania over AJ Styles. A great moment for him, to be sure, but this is a match Ambrose must win after losses at Mania, Roadblock, and Fastlane.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
B: Always a good match when these two get together. It’s really tough to predict a winner, given that both could probably use a victory if they’re going to remain strong. I’ll say Zayn scores a measure of revenge and comes out on top, if only because it seems like he’s due and there needs to be a face victory to balance off all the heel wins I’m projecting at Payback.
T: This is the kind of rivalry that can go on for months in WWE – think Shawn vs. Bret – and I think there’s still tons of millage left in this one. Kevin Owens has been typecast as a bit of a crybaby when he loses, and as a guy who walks out of matches. But this is the kind of match that lends itself to being more of a fight than anything and now is the time for Owens to go back to being the destroyer we all know and love. Sami Zayn wins this match, but only because Owens snaps and gets himself disqualified.
WINNER: Zayn by DQ
Enzo and Cass vs. VaudeVillains
B: Considering what’s at stake here – a shot at the tag-team champion New Day – the VVs absolutely have to come out on top. New Day and E&C are the two hottest acts in the company right now, but are both newly popular among the majority of the audience. Booking them against each other would be unwise at this juncture. The VVs can move on to what should be a good battle over the tag straps, while E&C can remain strong in their current position, cutting vicious promos on whoever it is that has the misfortune of stepping in their path.
T: I understand what Brian is saying with not pitting Enzo and Cass vs the New Day but that’s a build I want to see! A build like that has the chance to steal the show each and every time WWE airs. I’m happy to see the VaudeVillians are kicking ass so early in their debuts but it’s Enzo and Cass’s time. Unlike the VV, the one thing we never got to see from Enzo and Cass in NXT was an actual title run – they lost almost every big match they’d ever been in. Meanwhile, the VaudeVillains could just as easily move to feuds with the Lucha Dragons, Usos, and the returning Primo and Epico.
WINNER: Enzo and Cass
Charlotte vs. Natalya
B: I’m the furthest thing from certain on just about all of my predictions for Payback, but this is one match I feel pretty confident on. Is there any reason to think Natalya goes over? Further, is there any reason she should? Regardless, I’m just happy we’ll get a chance to see a rare appearance from Uncle Bret, who will be backing up his niece opposite Ric Flair (don’t get me started…) in Charlotte’s corner.
T: So let me get this straight. WWE dropped their push of Sasha Banks to run the EXACT SAME program they ran in NXT?? Sounds about right. Natalya is an amazing wrestler but there’s no chance in hell she wins. None.
The Miz vs. Cesaro
B: If you would have said a few months ago that these two would be fighting for a title, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Both seemed to be unjustly buried with no hope for a push, but here we are.
Miz is rejuvenated by the belt and the presence of Maryse, and Cesaro’s return from injury after Mania has been embraced by (not surprisingly) fans and (pleasantly surprisingly) bookers alike (not sure if he’s supposed to be Superman or James Bond, but I digress). I hope Miz retains here, simply because the IC title could use an extended reign after it got hot-potatoed earlier this year. That said, Cesaro is winning the match – but by either countout or DQ, as Miz finds a suitably yellow-belled way to escape, title intact.
T: It’s been one month since ‘Mania and we’ve already forgotten about Zack Ryder. For me, there was absolutely no justifying reason to give Ryder his “Wrestlemania moment” other than to swerve fans and create a shocking moment. How quickly it’s already faded from our memories and here we are with the Miz back as the IC champ against a returning Cesaro. I’ll agree with Brian, the Miz has been rejuvenated with the presence of Maryse. Cesaro’s new James Bond gimmick is fun, albeit corny as hell. Doesn’t seem like it’s sustainable at all. I was pumped to see Cesaro return and to be in a #1 Contender’s match for the WWE Championship, but in the matter of weeks he’s already been relegated back to the mid card. I suppose a loss for him here is a good thing because he’s much better than this. Expect Maryse to get involved but only just enough to distract Cesaro long enough for Miz to get the roll-up and the 1-2-3.
WINNER: The Miz
Vince McMahon decides who runs Raw
B: Vinnie Mac picks his son over his daughter just because. And in doing so, removes any residue of relevance from the Hell in a Cell match at Wrestlemania.
T: Shane gets Raw, Steph gets Smackdown and let the roster split begin! Bring back the big gold belt and for God’s sake, give it to CESARO!
Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles
B: Talk about a match loaded with intrigue. There’s so many questions: Will Gallows and Anderson get involved? Will they help AJ? Will there be a Finn Balor appearance? I’m going with no, yes, and I have no idea. I’ll venture just a little ways out on a limb here and predict that Gallow and Anderson double-cross AJ and may or may not form a new faction with Reigns that may or may not include Balor.
T: Atrocious ring attire aside, the additions of Gallows and Anderson has really helped to build interest in this match. There are so many different way they can go with this when you take into account the debut of Balor and the eventual return of Seth Rollins. Arguably, the match WWE is waiting for is Reigns vs. Rollins at Summerslam, so it doesn’t really make much sense for Reigns to lose tonight. But it won’t be without tomfoolery as Gallows and Anderson are sure to make an appearance. Only I suspect they’re there to screw AJ out of the win. Balor to emerge on the RAW episode following.