The fourth annual WWE Payback kicks off with the Finals of the #1 Contenders’ Tag Team Tournament as the charismatic and unpredictable Enzo & Big Cass would square off with the throwback team known as The Vaudevillains with the winners becoming the new #1 Contenders for the WWE Tag Team Titles with WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day at ringside. Early on in the match, a serious situation would bring the match to a halt as Simon Gotch would send Enzo Amore into the ropes, but something would go wrong and Enzo’s head would snap off of the second and third rope on his way out of the ring and it quickly became clear that Enzo was completely knocked out as a result. Upon realizing the severity of the situation, the referee would immediately call for medical personnel before calling for the bell. Medical personnel then bring out a stretcher, carefully strapping in Enzo as Colin Cassady watches, clearly emotional over his friend and tag team partner’s well-being.
In a personal battle of friends-turned-rivals, Payback would be an apt place for Sami Zayn to go one-on-one with Kevin Owens. In a stellar match between the two bitter enemies, each competitor would fire their best shot, including Sami Zayn hitting the Blue Thunder Bomb and Kevin Owens landing the frog splash off of the top rope, but both Superstars would continue to kick out. Owens would then deliver two Cannonballs to Sami Zayn before going for the Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Sami would counter, hitting Owens with a half nelson suplex before Owens quickly fires back, taking both men down. Sami and Owens would then find themselves battling on the ring apron, exchanging shots before Owens would look for a powerbomb on the ring apron, but Sami would counter, dropping Owens spine-first on the ring apron! Sami then follows this up with his signature tornado DDT on the floor before bringing Owens back into the ring. However, Owens would manage to catch Zayn with a super kick, following it up with the Pop-Up Powerbomb, pinning Zayn to pick up a hard-fought win in an excellent match.
After the match, Kevin Owens would toss Sami Zayn out of the ring before demanding that commentator Byron Saxton come interview him in the ring. Byron does as he is told and, despite Owens giving him a question to ask, Saxton asks Owens if the rivalry between him and Sami is over. Owens then takes the microphone from Byron, proclaiming that he “beat” Sami Zayn and they all saw it. Owens then declares that he is the “better man” before stating that, now, he can focus on regaining the Intercontinental Championship. Byron then asks Owens if Owens thinks that The Miz will retain the Intercontinental Title and Owens says that he doesn’t care if The Miz retains the title before taking it upon himself to be a guest on commentary for the Intercontinental Title match.
With Kevin Owens a guest on commentary, it was time for the Intercontinental Championship to be decided at Payback as The Miz, with Maryse in his corner, would defend the prestigious championship against “The Swiss Superman” Cesaro. During the hotly contested matchup, Cesaro would score with his signature European uppercut, but The Miz would manage to get his foot on the bottom rope to keep the match going. Shortly after this, The Miz would send Cesaro bad shoulder-first into the steel ring post, following it up with the Skull Crushing Finale, but Cesaro would kick out!
Meanwhile, with the match still in progress, Sami Zayn would appear out of nowhere at ringside, diving over the announce table onto Kevin Owens, sparking a brawl between Zayn and Owens on the outside before Zayn sacrifices himself to take himself and Owens out. Meanwhile, in the ring, Cesaro catches The Miz in the Cesaro Swing, swinging Miz around before locking in the Crossface. However, with the hold locked in, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens would re-appear, bringing their fight to the ring apron, distracting the referee and keeping the referee from seeing The Miz tapping out! A frustrated Cesaro would then release the hold to knock Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens off of the ring apron and The Miz is quick to take advantage, surprising Cesaro with the roll-up and hooking the tights for the illegal advantage, scoring the three-count to retain the Intercontinental Title.
After the match, a livid Cesaro would attack the Intercontinental Champion on the outside before bringing him in the ring and planting The Miz with the Neutralizer before Kevin Owens comes in and blasts Cesaro with a super kick! Sami Zayn then rushes back into the ring, but Owens gets the better of the situation, planting Sami with the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Owens then sets his sights on the Intercontinental Champion, looking to plant The Miz with the Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Maryse would come to her husband’s aid, pulling The Miz out of the ring. Owens then grabs the Intercontinental Title belt, holding it high and making it clear that he wants the Intercontinental Championship back.
In a feud born out of Chris Jericho’s frustration over having The Highlight Reel taken away from him in favor of Dean Ambrose’s Ambrose Asylum, Payback would see “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose go one-on-one with “Y2J” Chris Jericho. During the match, Dean Ambrose would survive the Walls of Jericho before diving to the outside onto Chris Jericho. Ambrose then exposes the announce table with the intent of spiking Jericho with Dirty Deeds on the table, but Jericho would counter, catapulting Ambrose off of the announce table, over the barricade to the floor! Jericho then heads back into the ring, looking for a count-out victory, but Ambrose would barely make it back into the ring before the ten-count. Shortly after this, Ambrose would look for Dirty Deeds, but Jericho would counter, again locking in the Walls of Jericho. Ambrose would manage to counter the Walls of Jericho into a roll-up, but Jericho would kick out. Jericho then utilizes the Welcome to Chicago maneuver before going for the Lionsault, but Ambrose would get the knees up before hooking Jericho and spiking “Y2J” with Dirty Deeds, pinning Jericho for the win.
After Charlotte’s father, Ric Flair, got involved in their title match a few weeks ago, costing Natalya the Women’s Title, the rematch would take place at Payback as Charlotte, with her Hall of Fame father Ric Flair in her corner, would defend the Women’s Championship against Natalya, with her Hall of Fame uncle Bret “The Hitman” Hart in her corner. Throughout the match, both champion and challenger would do their best to hobble the other with their signature submission maneuvers, but after Natalya reversed the Figure-Four Leg Lock and Charlotte was forced to break the hold, Charlotte would use Natalya and her uncle Bret Hart’s own finisher, the Sharpshooter, against Natalya.
Then, in a call back to the Montreal Screwjob nearly twenty years ago, referee Charles Robinson would immediately call for the bell despite the fact that Natalya did not tap out. After the match, the referee would quickly toss the Women’s Title belt to Charlotte before making himself scarce. Amidst the celebration, a rightfully angry Bret Hart would enter the ring, dropping Ric Flair with a right hand before, together, Bret Hart locks in the Sharpshooter on Ric Flair while Natalya locks in the Sharpshooter on Charlotte as both “The Nature Boy” and the Women’s Champion tap out in unison! Natalya and Bret Hart are then left standing tall in the ring with Natalya having again being cheated out of the Women’s Championship in the same fashion as her uncle did almost twenty years ago.
WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon would then make his way to the ring at Payback as the Chairman would decide who will be in charge of RAW for the foreseeable future, either Shane McMahon or Stephanie McMahon. Through chants of “CM Punk” from the Chicago crowd, Mr. McMahon explains that, over the years, RAW has changed and evolved with the times. The Chairman then says that they “reinvent” RAW all the time and RAW has gone through many different eras and there is a decision that needs to be made as to who will run RAW, either his son Shane or his daughter Stephanie. Vince then introduces his daughter as WWE Principal Owner Stephanie McMahon makes her way to the ring with a smile on her face. As the crowd overwhelmingly boos Stephanie, Stephanie says that she’d rather be “feared or respected” than felt sorry for, saying that, under the rule of The Authority, there have been countless successful pay-per-view events and new Superstars emerging, bringing up the likes of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, The New Day, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and AJ Styles.
Stephanie then takes credit for the creation and popularity of the WWE Network before saying that every decision she has ever made has been “best for business”. Stephanie continues, saying that her brother Shane is “misogynistic” and, when the going got tough, he “abandoned” the fans for seven years. Stephanie then tells her father that the only way that Shane got back into WWE was by “blackmailing” the Chairman, saying that Shane lacks the “integrity” to run RAW, saying that there is only one “choice” and that is her. This brings out the most popular of the McMahons as Shane McMahon makes his way to the ring to confront his father and sister. Shane asks Stephanie how many headlines The Authority has made before showing all of the headlines he has made since his return to WWE. Shane then corrects his sister, saying that the WWE Network was Vince’s creation before saying that there was one match at WrestleMania that drew a lot of subscribers to the WWE Network, referring to his match with The Undertaker. Shane then addresses his departure from WWE seven years ago, saying that his difference in opinion on how WWE should be ran led to him parting ways with the company.
Shane continues, saying that, in his absence, Stephanie and Triple H took over WWE and, instead of introducing new Superstars and new matchups, The Authority injected their “poison” into WWE. Shane then says that he came back to “ensure the future” of WWE before Shane says that Vince doesn’t have to listen to his voice because the fans speak for him. Shane then holds the microphone up the crowd as the crowd cheers for Shane McMahon before the Chairman puts a stop to it. Vince then reminds his son that Shane lost to The Undertaker at WrestleMania so Shane shouldn’t even be standing in the ring right now and the only reason that Shane was in charge of RAW was because Shane tried to upstage him and he wanted to see Shane fall right on his face, but Shane did not.
The Chairman then says that he only listens to himself and tonight is about what he wants, not what Shane, Stephanie, or the fans want. Vince continues, saying that he wants to, figuratively, see Shane and Stephanie draw each other’s blood and see them “disembowel” each other. The Chairman then announces his decision, declaring that both Shane and Stephanie will have “equal say” in how RAW is ran because they will both be in charge of Monday Night RAW! Vince then leaves the ring with a smile on his face as his two children stand perplexed in the ring, both of them now in charge of RAW. Shane then extends his hand to his sister and, surprisingly, Stephanie shakes her brother’s hand before both McMahons exit the ring.
Then it was time for the main event of Payback as, for the first time since defeating Triple H to win the title at WrestleMania, Roman Reigns would defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles. During the battle of speed versus power, AJ Styles would repeatedly use his quickness advantage to get the better of the champion, even locking in the Calf Crusher, but Reigns would escape to the outside. “The Phenomenal One” would then size Roman Reigns up before diving to the outside with the Phenomenal Forearm to Reigns that sends both champion and challenger crashing through the announce table! AJ Styles is the first to his feet as Styles has the unenviable task of trying to drag Roman Reigns back to the ring. However, it would become clear to “The Phenomenal One” that there was not enough time to get both himself and Reigns back into the ring, so Styles opted to leave Roman on the outside and slide back into the ring just as the referee reaches his ten count as Styles wins the match by count-out, meaning that Roman Reigns is still the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Naturally, AJ Styles appears disappointed with how things played out before Shane McMahon comes out. Shane says that championship matches may have ended like that in the “old era” of WWE, but this is the “new era”, so the WWE World Heavyweight Title match is going to be restarted and, this time, there will be no count-outs! With Roman Reigns still down on the outside, the bell would ring and the championship match would officially start again. Styles would roll the champion into the ring, delivering a few quick shots to Reigns before climbing to the top rope, looking for the 450 Splash, but Reigns gets his knees up before going for the pin with Styles kicking out. Styles then goes to the second rope, but when he dives at Reigns, Roman catches the challenger with a shot that the referee determined to be a low blow as the referee ends the match by disqualification, meaning that Reigns keeps the title!
This brings out Stephanie McMahon, who declares that they will have a definitive winner here tonight before announcing that the title match is going to be restarted again and, this time, there will be no disqualifications! The bell then rings again as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match is restarted with no disqualifications and no count-outs! Reigns is quick to knock Styles to the outside where the champion sends the challenger into the steel steps before delivering a big boot that sends Styles over the barricade. “The Phenomenal One” then dives at Reigns, sending Roman over the barricade before Styles dives off of the barricade with a knee to the head of Roman on top of the Spanish announce table. Styles then rolls Reigns back into the ring before sizing Roman up for the Phenomenal Forearm, but when the challenger dives off of the top rope, he is caught in mid-air with the Superman Punch from Reigns, but Styles is somehow able to kick out!
The champion then picks Styles up before delivering a second Superman Punch to “The Phenomenal One”. Roman then sizes Styles up for the Spear, but this is when Styles’ friends Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson arrive on the scene, pulling AJ Styles out of the ring. Gallows & Anderson then enter the ring with their sights set on Roman Reigns as the champion is overwhelmed by the two-on-one beatdown that is capped off with the Boot of Doom. Gallows & Anderson then stand on the outside as AJ Styles struggles to pull himself up to the ring apron before Styles leaps off of the top rope with the Phenomenal Forearm to Reigns, but Roman is barely able to get his foot on the bottom rope at the last second, keeping the match alive!
With Reigns and Styles still down in the ring, Roman’s cousins The Usos come out for a piece of Gallows & Anderson as the two teams brawl in the entrance way. Meanwhile, in the ring, AJ Styles makes his way to the top rope before Roman Reigns pops up and shoves AJ Styles off of the top rope to the outside with Styles taking out The Usos and Gallows & Anderson! Roman then gets to his feet before diving to the outside, taking out The Usos and Gallows & Anderson, but AJ Styles is able to avoid the impact as Styles dives off of the barricade with the Phenomenal Forearm to Reigns! Styles then rolls Roman back into the ring before delivering a springboard 450 splash off of the top rope, but, somehow, the champion kicks out again! Styles then looks for the Styles Clash, but Roman fights out, sending the challenger to the ring apron before going for the Superman Punch. Styles manages to avoid the Superman Punch before looking for another Phenomenal Forearm, but Reigns dodges the Phenomenal Forearm before connecting with the Spear! Reigns then manages to drape his arm over Styles, finally securing the three-count to successfully retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a chaotic, unforgettable championship match.
Backstage, WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon congratulates both Shane and Stephanie McMahon on making a couple of great decisions regarding the main event. The Chairman then asks Shane and Stephanie if they think that AJ Styles deserves a rematch. Stephanie mentions Extreme Rules in three weeks before Shane jumps in, saying that it should be an Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles at Extreme Rules! Vince then says that he will see both of them tomorrow night before leaving the room. Stephanie then surprisingly tells her brother that she fully supports Shane’s decision before Stephanie exits, leaving a perplexed Shane McMahon alone to ponder his sister’s true intentions.
What did you think of Payback? Post your comments in the box below.