Your “SO OF COURSE” preview of WWE Payback 2015

In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to Preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.

So consider this your “so of course” predictions for WWE King of the wait we already did that.

*checks google*

PAYBACK! We’re calling this one PAYBACK. Gotcha.

Okay, so let’s look at the card. Hopefully there are a lot of fresh match-ups to be enjoyed..





So apparently “decension” isn’t a word. So what’s the opposite of “Ascension?” These are the things I’ll be pondering whenever the Ascension is on offense. I’m actually shocked this match is happening. To be honest it feels too self-aware for WWE. Usually it’s the insane fan theories that begin with “this guy should totally team with this guy and do this…” and then we laugh because it’s so oddball WWE would never do it. WWE’s idea of fun is fart jokes and incest. I’m sure there was someone a month ago saying

“Curtis Axel should fully embrace his Hogan shtick and team up with Damien Sandow cosplaying as Macho Man…they should call themselves the Minor Powers, tag for a while and then break up because of some minor thing, then feud, culminating in a match at SummerSlam. All of this should take place in the black hole that is the third hour of Raw and the preshow of PPV’s.”

I’m sure someone out there thought that, and everyone laughed and then went back to expecting none of that to happen.

Low and behold.

What’s even more bizarre, is the fact that someone in WWE Creative decided to just run with The Ascension as the jobber version of the Legion of Doom, giving fans the loser version of the “Road Warriors vs Mega Powers” match we never got to see.  So what should happen here? Basically this:

Curtis Axel should fully embrace his Hogan shtick and team up with Damien Sandow cosplaying as Macho Man…they should call themselves the Minor Powers, tag for a while and then break up because of some minor thing, then feud, culminating in a match at SummerSlam. All of this should take place in the black hole that is the third hour of Raw and the preshow of PPV’s.”

WWE needs more silliness to break up the monotony of Raw. In fact, MORE of Raw needs to be these loosely-stitched-together components, each existing in its own little world, with only occasional intertwining when needed. Like comic books.

So of course…

01 minor powers


NEW DAY vs CESARO & KIDD, round two (not counting all the non-PPV matches, of which there are dozens)

These two teams had a great match last month, ending in a somewhat surprising title change. Since then, they’ve…kept feuding. But its okay because we’ve gotten to bear witness to the slow turn to awesomeness that is New Day. What started out as a joke to be laughed at, has become a joke to be laughed with. Usually it’s the opposite in WWE, where things that catch on unexpectedly are co-opted and turned into things fans hate. Remember when Fandangoing was fun? Remember like a week later when Jerry Lawler stood mid-ring and said “C’mon everyone let’s DO IT!” and then it suddenly became a lot less fun.

New Day should have been like that, but instead it was allowed to suffer and die as a babyface act and then be resurrected as a heel group that Booker T doesn’t understand (seriously, how can he be from Texas and not understand the Freebird Rule?). I was hesitant to see Cesaro and Kidd lose the titles, but I’m loving what New Day is doing, so I won’t complain when they retain the titles on Sunday and head into the Elimination Chamber as champs. That’s what should happen.

So of course…

02 tag title

KING BARRETT vs NEVILLE, round three

These two teams had a great match last month, ending in a somewhat surprising loss for Wade Barrett. No really, I mean that. Sorry if it sounded sarcastic. Sure, Wade was a goober for the first few months of the year, and couldn’t buy a win to save his life, but it’s almost as though the powers that be noticed that and decided to rehab him a bit. He won King of the Ring, and was–in all honesty–the best guy to do so, and since then has gone on to string together a record (for him) number of wins on TV…THREE! He won the crown by beating Neville, whom he had lost to at the Extreme Rules PPV. Since then, they’ve…kept feuding.

This is a tough one to call, because both guys really need the win. Wade needs to keep momentum going, otherwise his King of the Ring win becomes a silly gimmick and not a silly gimmick with a push. Neville needs the win as he is pretty directionless right now. He’s either winning nothing-matches, losing semi-important matches, or almost winning but still losing important matches. Right now he’s getting by on his incredible ring skills, and those will be enough to keep him popular, but not enough to move him up the card. He can either be Eddie Guerrero or Rey Mysterio. Right now he’s looking like the latter.

What should happen? Wade Barrett should win, head into the Elimination Chamber special with all the momentum and then lose in the IC title match to Neville (if it’s in the Chamber, even better). I’m not normally a fan of even-steven booking, but I think in this case it would leave both guys looking strong enough that they can move on to new opponents in June (Sheamus for Neville, and possible Cena for Barrett).

So of course…

03 neville

SHEAMUS vs DOLPH ZIGGLER, round two-ish

These two teams had a great match last month, ending in a somewhat surprising finish. Since then, they’ve…kept feuding. Thankfully it doesn’t look like anyone will have his face covered in dingleberries as a result of a “kiss me arse” match.



I guess I shouldn’t be complaining about so many rematches on this card, since (1) almost all of that are were entertaining, and (2) the non-rematch match on this card features Ryback. It is a little weird (as a result of the schedule more than anything) that the gimmick match came first and the rematch is just a straight 1-on-1 contest. So what should happen in this match? What should have happened last month: Sheamus should win and then move on to a new opponent. A feud with Neville would continue his gimmick of being the avatar for Vince’s hatred of the popular non-giant wrestlers he pays to wrestle for him. No matter where Sheamus goes, this clearly should be the end of the line for his feud with Ziggler.

So of course…

04 sheamus


This is the, so far, only fresh matchup on the main show. lolidon’teven

Admit it, when Wyatt started in on his latest smokey-room cryptic monologues, you wanted to believe he was talking about Triple H, but deep down you knew it would be this. What will be really disappointing will be if Ryback wins clean. It won’t really do much for him because he’s proven that he lacks the it-factor needed to be a main event player (either as a face or a heel). A loss would hurt Wyatt more than help Ryback. Wyatt has been off his game for a year now. A year. He has yet to fully recover from his feud with Cena that ended this time last year. His subsequent feud with Jericho was lackluster, his feud with Ambrose was transparently a rebuilding tool for him, which angered Ambrose’s fans as he lost their every encounter, and his feud with Undertaker–though carried single-handedly by him–ended with a tombstone and a 1-2-3. The guy who had a streak of PPV appearances going, ended up sitting out Extreme Rules just so his big comeback feud could be with the Feed Me More guy.

So yeah, just as much as Ambrose needed a “W” last month, Wyatt really needs one this month. What should happen? The new face of fear should do something actually frightening for a change: He should win in such a decisive way that Ryback takes a few months off. Wyatt then turns babyface and feuds with the champion for a few months before moving on to a new program for SummerSlam. Something needs to happen, some kind of a twist or something to give this feud some energy.

So of course…

05 wyatt

NAOMI & TAMINA vs THE BELLAS, round two-ish

What should happen, apart from the entire Divas division (minus Paige) being jettisoned and replaced with replays of the previous week’s NXT Divas matches? The Bella(s) should win. At this point, Nikki has held the belt for so long they might as well let her keep it and break AJ’s record. Then call up Charlotte and, maybe, this time, for realsies, relaunch the entire division with a different mentality.

There is so much money being left out of WWE’s pockets by refusing to get behind a serious divas division. Female fans would relish the opportunity to be more than a +1, who tags along with boyfriends/husbands and could actually get behind a Divas match, instead of getting angry at their boyfriends for just staring at the behinds of Divas during their matches. A total makeover of the division is needed but just throwing new bodies into the division isn’t going to change anything. Change has to start at the top with the man in charge.

So of course…

06 divas title

 JOHN CENA vs RUSEV, round four

These two teams had a really good match three months ago, then another pretty good match two months ago, then another bad match last month. Last month’s match ended in a somewhat predictable fashion (lolcenawins). Since then, they’ve…kept feuding. Somehow this entire thing has gotten turned inside out. It used to be that the champion would have his big title match at the end of the month, and in the weeks leading up to it would have a bunch of throwaway matches no one cared about.

Instead, Cena has been putting on a streak of great title matches on free TV, and in between has making us pay for his averageburgerswithcheese matches with Rusev on the Network. I went into this Rusev vs Cena feud, way back in February, with the understanding that Rusev would get the Wyatt treatment. That is to say: He’d win one of three matches, come out looking worse overall and then move on to something else. Oh boy did WWE throw me for a loop. Here I was worried about a legit talented worker, who really gets the finer, more subtle aspects of the work, when little did I know WWE had a plan for him all along

He’d go one and FOUR against Cena, including 0-for his last 3!

Shirley not, though, right? Shirley WWE would not give Rusev a loss three PPV’s in a row, after going a whole year undefeated. Shirley Vince McMahon is not insane.

And yet, what other option is there? Giving the belt back to Rusev feels like going backwards. That story has been told and the only acceptable final chapter in it was Super Cena The American Hero. I wonder though, if the special Elimination Chamber PPV won’t allow them to shake things up and give us an unexpected title change, knowing they can undo it a couple weeks later.

Lana has been teasing a face turn for a few weeks now, so blatantly I might add, that things are ripe for a swerve. Lana helping Rusev to recapture the title only for Cena to win it back and finish the feud for good at the end of this month might be a good way to reestablish some heat on Rusev and begin the transition away from his seemingly-never-ending beef with Captain America. The match is an I-Quit match, so what would be cool is if Lana does this whole Damsel in Distress thing with Rusev threatening to attack her and gallant Cena quitting to avoid her injury. Then it comes out it was a swerve and Lana was in cahoots with Rusev! Some kind of a screwy finish with a heel win would also justify, not only this match, but the final match at the end of the month.

So of course…

07 us title


Woo it’s finally here (+Randy Orton)! The match fans have been dying to see for almost a year now (+Randy Orton)! This Sunday brings us the first ever Shield Triple Threat Match for the WWE Title (+Randy Orton)! Okay so it’s not exactly what fans have been waiting for, but at least we get Dean Ambrose in a WWE Title match…even if it is just to take the pin.

What’s weird is that, unlike many four-man matches, this one only has one clear heel in the mix. The other three are anti-hero Orton, popular babyface Ambrose, and wannabe-popular babyface Reigns. Despite this being Ambrose’s first PPV title opportunity, it is Roman Reigns who has to be the most nervous. His character rehabilitation has been slow and steady since WrestleMania, but after his show-stealing match last month (with Big Show of all people), he’s being hot-shotted back to the title scene. Fans are likely to be more supportive of Ambrose but hopefully Roman won’t be the recipient of the fans ill will.

It still feels too early for Roman to win the title, not only because there’s so much more story to be told with Seth holding the belt, but also because Roman’s fan support is only just starting to solidify. Like a delicate cake that is rising in the oven, if you cut into it too soon it could collapse. If things continue as they are, I’d be fine with seeing Roman get a few months to run with the title this fall, assuming Rollins wins it back on his way to a 1-on-1 fight with Lesnar at WrestleMania. Whatever the long-term plans are, Roman simply isn’t ready yet to carry the main event scene.

On the other hand, like with the US title match, this one could see a surprise title change only to have it undone at the Elimination Chamber special. Reigns could walk away with the belt and hold it for two weeks as kind of a trial run to gauge the audience’s reaction, or even Dean Ambrose could win the strap to see if fans respond to him as a consistent main event attraction. I have a feeling fans would be mixed for the former and hot for the latter, but you never know.

One thing is for sure, on a show with so many rematches, something exciting needs to happen. Something exciting needs to be the final image of the night, if for no other reason than simply to justify the show’s existence.

So of course…

08 title match

Oh well. There’s always NXT.

Here’s to Sunday.

so of course - Copy


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