1) The return gained from or paid on an investment. 2) The return on an investment equal to the amount invested. 3) The benefit gained as the result of a previous action. 4) The act or process of paying back.
Payback is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to the wrestlers of WWE, it’s the fourth definition above that will ring most true. On this night, receipts are cashed as championships are decided, as vendettas are acted upon, where revenge is sought on behalf of the self and others… and the night the Best in the World will be decided once and for all. Some people pay with their sweat. Some people pay with their tears. Some people even pay with their blood. No matter how they pay, they all suffer in the end because payback, as the old saying goes, is a bitch.
Running Time: 169mins (2hrs 49mins – including extras)
- Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett v The Miz v Curtis Axel
- Mr. McMahon interrupts Triple H
- Divas Championship Match: Kaitlyn v AJ Lee
- Layla, Natalya & Alicia Fox comfort Kaitlyn
- United States Championship Match: Dean Ambrose v Kane
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler v Alberto Del Rio
- Chris Jericho v CM Punk
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns v Randy Orton & Daniel Bryan
- Three Stages of Hell WWE Championship Match: John Cena v Ryback
- Special Feature – CM Punk & Paul Heyman discuss Payback
- The History of The Shield, Team Hell No & Randy Orton
WWE sometimes change the name of their PPVs for no reason. I mean, love them or hate them, the change that led to us having events titled TLC, Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank and, I suppose Night of Champions at least make sense as these type of matches are the main attraction of the respective PPVs. However, changing No Way Out (which only really made sense when it was in February for the Chamber matches) to Payback seemed to have been done for no reason other than to work the famous “Payback is a bitch” line into the Randy Orton-led promos for the event itself. And don’t even get me started on WWE Battleground. Enough with the digressing and onto the show we go. WWE Payback was a seven-match card that was another solid outing from McMahon’s organisation. Before the PPV started, Sheamus locked up with Damien Sandow on the pre-show (which is bafflingly left off the extras for both the DVD and Blu-Ray editions) in a well-received match and then it was on to the first of six title matches as Wade Barrett defended his Intercontinental Championship against perennial foe The Miz and the newest Paul Heyman guy; Curtis Axle. A nice little opener, with some nifty spots and a fantastic finish (helped along by the genius work of Paul Heyman at ringside), this three-way got the crowd into things and with this being Chicago (a smark-town if ever there was one), led to a very popular winner. The post-match tribute by Axle to his dad on Fathers’ Day was the cherry on top. Following on from that, the WWE Divas showed that it’s not just the TNA Knockouts who can get it done between the ropes. AJ Lee, who has been a revelation since she went insane, and Kaitlyn had a fantastic ten-minute match that featured great spots, great storytelling from both women and a rather excellent (clean) finish. So far, WWE Payback was two-for-two (or three-for-three if you saw the pre-show), but the third match of the PPV let the side down. Not only was it the first sub-par match of the night, it was also the first sub-par match to feature The Shield since they debuted seven months earlier. That’s not to say the match was a stinker, but compared to the matches The Shield had been having in various combinations, it was very underwhelming. Ambrose and Kane didn’t seem to click and the bout as a result seemed disjointed. That being said, the right guy won and it was soon forgotten the next day. Up next wasn’t so much a match as an angle to allow Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler to turn heel and face respectively. Playing of Ziggler’s real-life concussion, the story of the match was Alberto targeting Dolph’s head with some (legitimately brutal looking) shots to the head. Kick after kick was laid in and “The Show-off” kept kicking out while selling his arse off. In the end, his body gave out on him before his spirit did (as with all the great babyfaces who won’t give up) and we had a new champion. But more than that, we had a new champion who was back under the alignment he needs to be and after months of wanting to cheer him, the fans got a new good guy. It was a win-win all round. The placement of the World Heavyweight Championship match was also rather smart by WWE as while there was drama, there was little back-and-forth epicness to tire the fans out before the match the Chicago fans had come to see. Ever since Punk left WWE after his loss to Undertaker (on the RAW the week following WrestleMania), the fans had been wondering when he would return. Chris Jericho didn’t want to wait to find out and outright challenged Punk to see who really is The Best in the World. Paul Heyman accepted the match on his friend’s behalf and the bout was set for Payback… but with the rumours of a feud between Brock Lesnar and Punk on the cards and Heyman going to side with “The Beast”, there was a legit fear Punk may not turn up to get that rivalry started. Chris Jericho made his entrance and his theme faded out. Every pair of eyes in the building then turned to the entranceway as Living Colour started to blare from the speakers. The fears Punk may not appear proved unfounded as the man himself sauntered onto the stage and 12,500 fans began screaming themselves hoarse. For the next 20+ minutes, the Chicago crowd didn’t care that the match wasn’t able to live up to the hype. All they cared about was Paul Heyman at ringside and their hometown hero between the ropes. Taking up the traditional “break between the high-energy match and the main-event” spot, Shield members Rollins and Reigns defended their tag-titles against the odd-couple pairing of Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. Orton was drafted in as part of the Team Hell No / Shield feud and to shake things up it was Kane who was given the singles match and the remaining two were given a shot at the Tag Team Champions. This was a great match and it’s amazing to say that The Shield have never had even bad match in a tag-team setting. They just work so well in regular and six-man tags that the little things they do are now taken from granted. Both teams get a chance to fine and the finish left all four men strong moving on. Again, the right team left with the gold. Finally, we come to the main event and two wrestlers who are unfairly tarnished as poor workers who need to be carried. The fact they were wrestling each other must have went some way to shutting up some of those critics who say that Cena or Ryback need to be carried to a good match. In fact, I’d throw a challenge out there to find a genuinely sub-par PPV match featuring John Cena or Ryback. The latter especially has been great in every big match he’s been in. First mooted as a one-fall Ambulance Match (stemming from the finish to their Last Man Standing Match at Extreme Rules), Cena cut a promo where he asked Ryback to up the ante and take him on in a Three Stages of Hell Match. Mr. “Feed Me More” accepted and the match would now comprise of a Lumberjack Match followed by a Tables Match and then, “if needed” the original Ambulance Match. This was a fantastic main event and the fact each finish was clean really added to it. Ryback getting the pinfall with his finish in the first fall was great for the big man. It basically meant that even if he did lose the next two falls, he had cleanly pinned Cena in the middle of the ring while Ryback was never pinned or made to submit. As it happens, this is exactly what transpired as Cena prevailed in a brutal table match and then, in a stunning visual, put Ryback through the roof of the ambulance after an even harder-hitting third fall. While the Chicago crowd like to rag on Cena, even they had to be impressed by the pain both men put themselves through for the WWE Championship.
Two extras on the disc and neither is the pre-show match, but at least they are better than the standard one-minute post-match interview that really doesn’t warrant inclusion. The first is a very short (forty seconds) backstage discussion between CM Punk and Paul Heyman that actually furthers the storyline and the second is a recap of the Team Hell No/ Orton v The Shield storyline that led to the matches on the PPV. Both are good for what they are and the recap is another triumph for the WWE Production staff.
For me, to have six title matches on a seven-match card is overkill of the highest order and really drives it home that there are too many championships in WWE at present. I’ve said it before, but the World and WWE titles should be merged as should the IC and US titles. This would leave four championships for the four divisions in WWE that require them; mid-card, tag, female and main-event talent. Moving on from my own personal views on the title scene, Payback was a great event that continued the show quality from Extreme Rules. WrestleMania may have been a disappointment, but the post-Mania shows have not been (and at present this remains the case as we just come off SummerSlam). Only the Dean Ambrose v Kane match was below the level expected of the performers, which is a great return when you look at it. MVP of the night was Daniel Bryan, with kudos given to Rollins & Reigns, Punk, AJ Lee, Kaitlyn, Paul Heyman, Cena and Ryback for their efforts. Payback is well worth having in your collection. If you buy the Blu-Ray edition, the Team Hell No / Orton v The Shield match from Smackdown prior to the event is worth the money on its own. Blu-Ray owners also get -: Monday Night RAW 10th June, 2013
- Triple H v Curtis Axel
- Randy Orton v Roman Reigns
- Daniel Bryan v Seth Rollins
- John Cena & Ryback Face to Face
SmackDown 14th June, 2013
- Daniel Bryan distances himself from Kane
- Team Hell No & Randy Orton v The Shield
Points: 8/10 Buy It: