As with all these specials; please note if you’ve clicked on this by accident or out of curiosity and for some reason you haven’t seen the Payback PPV yet; let me take this moment to declare FULL SPOILER ALERT!
Let us start, as is custom, at the beginning; the pre-show Mask vs Hair match pitting El Torito against Hornswoggle. I made no secret of the fact that I really enjoyed their Wee-LC effort at the Extreme Rules PPV; and, truth be told, I was looking forward to this match more than most of the announced/rumored card for the main show. At the end of the day, wrestling is entertainment; and, damn it, these guys had a solid and entertaining comedy match last time out.
While this latest chapter in their rivalry didn’t have the same amount of whistles and bells as their previous encounter; once again it was solid, fun and fully deserving of the “This is Awesome” chant it drew from the always excellent Chicago crowd. Will it linger in the memory? No; the fact I haven’t gone into much detail about the ins and outs of the match goes to prove that. But once again; my overriding memory of the match was of being thoroughly entertained and laughing out loud from it’s start to finish. Once again; Los Matadores and 3MB deserve a lot of credit for throwing themselves into their spots and doing as much as they could to add to the match without overshadowing the official combatants. A lot of wrestlers, both past and present, wouldn’t have done so; and to me it speaks to the character of the performers, both as performers and as people. I actually found myself thinking that, as a result of this, it was a shame that they’re all placed in low card comedy jobber gimmicks; hopefully the office starts to give these performers some recognition for their efforts in giving us fans a damn fine piece of entertainment.
The main card opened with the US Title match between Sheamus and Cesaro; and, my God, did it set the bar high for the night. I seem to be one of the few people who doesn’t mind Sheamus and I do struggle to see why, beyond the association with Triple H, the WWE fan base (there is absolutely no way I’m calling it a universe anymore; it’s just silly and I feel myself die a little every time I type it) seem to have a downer on him. Yes, he’s not the greatest, but he’s a lot better than most give him credit for; and last night he added to his (admittedly short) list of top notch matches. From Paul Heyman deflecting CM Punk chants to give another blisteringly funny “My client, Brock Lesnar, defeated The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania” (though none of them live up to his knock-knock joke one; that was a true classic) through to just before the finish; this match delivered. Fast paced, action packed, aggressive, competitive and brimming with near falls; this match, while not necessarily a five star effort and suffering from a lame finish, tore the house down and set the pace for the rest of the show. For this writer it was the measuring stick for the night, as an opening match should be, and easily at least the joint best match of the night.
I have to admit; I zoned out a bit for the following match pitting the Rhodes brothers against Rybaxel. WWE had served it up on TV a few times over the last few months and despite the best efforts of those involved to raise it above that level by quickening the pace and trying to match the good qualities of the opener; it never really rose above a decent filler match on Raw. While it continued the story of the problems with the Rhodes brothers tag-team; this took away time that could’ve been better allocated elsewhere; though admittedly there was very little in the way of timing issues last night.
My problem with this storyline has been the fact it has come at the wrong time; the Rhodes’ practically disappeared from TV during Wrestlemania season and have been used as little more than jobbers since they resurfaced. I find it hard to care about something when WWE doesn’t present it as being worth caring about and one has to wonder why that has been? Cody is easily the best athlete in the family and is reasonably over; while Goldust, from an in-ring perspective, is in the form of his life. Knowing the way WWE operates; could this be the retribution for Dusty’s discretion during that segment with Stephanie McMahon last year? Before the loss to the New Age Outlaws; these guys were a hot and over tag-team. Yet WWE, as it unfortunately and inevitably always does these got bored of them for some reason and has hardly used them meaningfully since.
Rusev vs Big E was a match I thought was a natural pairing from the
moment I watched Rusev’s first match; it was an entertaining scrap that
was too short for my liking. Hard hitting and fast paced; I’d have liked
to see them have had more time and be pitted as more equal than they
eventually were. Maybe it wasn’t presented that way because of the
relative inexperience of the two; but, as enjoyable as the match was, I felt it was a waste of a situation. To me; a prolonged and competitive feud between the two has the hallmark of a decent mid-card program that could create two new stars if handled correctly. But, depending on where they go with the Cena/Wyatt angle, I have a sneaking suspicion that Rusev is being built up for Cena; possibly even as soon as Summerslam.
The following aborted match between Kofi Kingston and Bo Dallas was an example of the kind of thing that really irks this writer about WWE today; mainly as I don’t use Twitter. While I can’t say I was displeased that the match didn’t happen; basing an angle on a talents social media activity doesn’t work for those of us who either don’t follow that talent or don’t use the social media platform the angle springs from. While I guess they had to do something with Kane giving he’s suffered almost as much as Daniel Bryan has from the situation with his injury, from a career/story aspect at least, they could have picked a way that didn’t leave this writer and the others who either don’t use Twitter or don’t follow Kofi scratching their heads.