Bobby Lashley def. Apollo Crews (C) – United States Championship
Kind of a shocker, but then again, not really considering the fact that Apollo’s title run never really got off the ground. This was a relatively solid match to start, pairing Apollo’s athleticism with Lashley’s power. The biggest shocker for me wasn’t necessarily the fact that Apollo lost, but that he lost cleanly. Even though The Hurt Business was there, the finish was all Lashley. Then, after the match Crews attacks Lashley like a sore loser, he runs away and its his music that gets played? Guess that’s just the face/heel dynamic there.
It was certainly energetic, and while I was worried that the Hurt Business would interfere too much, it was kept to a minimum, and the two had a competently worked match. Solid start. ***
Big E def. Sheamus
Wow, this quite a treat. I was expecting this to be a pre-show match coming in, but I wrong and damn was I thoroughly entertained. This was probably the most technical match Sheamus has worked in the while. Did you guys see that counter from the Big Ending into the heel hook? One thing that I hate in certain matches is when a heel will work over the body part and just ignore it when we get to the end.
However, Sheamus stuck with it, and it made us appreciate Big E’s power much more. If you’re going to build Big E’s singles career, this is the way to do it. Clean, convincing victories over credible opponents and Sheamus made Big E look very good here. I thought Big E could have done a little better in selling the leg, especially after the match, but that’s hit or miss. Overall, this over-delivered for what I was expecting, and I’m glad it did. Combine the technicality with Sheamus’ and Big E’s physicality, and you got yourself a fun match. Awesome stuff here. ***3/4
Matt Riddle def. King Corbin
Another great showing here, and it gave me flashes of Big E and Sheamus in a way, but just change the characters. Corbin’s relentless nature combined with Corbin’s technicality was a great combination. I can’t remember the last time I could say that I enjoyed a Corbin match, but this was a very good showing by him and by Riddle as well. With Sheamus and Corbin, they put over Big E and Corbin here pretty greatly. And in the end, Corbin got his head back anyway with him jumping Corbin backstage.
Overall, another high quality match in a series of them tonight so far. I don’t know what’s in the water at the ThunderDome so far, but it’s clearly something good because everyone appears to be on their A-game tonight. ***1/2
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks (C) and Bayley (C) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
As I said before, I don’t know what’s in the water at the Thunderdome, but WWE needs to make sure it stays like that. This match once again exceeded my expectations. I was never a huge fan of Jax’s work. I actually once called her the worst worker on the roster. Baszler can be great when she wants, but she also has to be paired with the right opponent. But, they can both be great in spurts. And both of them were great in these spurts tonight.
The double team moves on Nia and that finish by Shayna were my favorite parts of the match. I thought they were going to tease more dissension between Sasha and Bayley here, but they just got outclassed. Of course, the story here is that Nia and Shayna are a last minute makeshift tag team who were only bonded by their hate for Sasha and Bayley, and they worked flawlessly as a tag team. Shayna takes care of the in-ring physical stuff, and Nia can come in for bursts of power. That combination with the craftiness of Sasha and Bayley just made for a beautiful combination and some great near-falls at the end.
Man, if this is how tonight’s gonna go, I can’t wait to see what’s still to come. ***3/4
Keith Lee def. Randy Orton
Definitely not a bad match, and I can dig Lee winning. But the problem with this match wasn’t the fact that it was bad, because it wasn’t at all. But it was way too short for e to care. The finish especially took me off guard. I didn’t even absorb the fact Lee pinned Orton until I saw him celebrating in the ring. It was just so sudden. You wouldn’t think that this was the match that would be the shortest on the card. I could even understand if it was a fluke or a flash pin or something. But Lee hit his finisher and everything, and just like that. Done.
I don’t know. This was supposed to be a huge win for Lee, and it still is, but I would have appreciated it more if he went through the ringer. But this was literally a sprint. It’ll be interesting to see how they have Orton rebound. You lose to the WWE Champion at WrestleMania, and then you lose to his friend after he came to his defense. We’ll have to see. So again, about as good a 7 minute match will get, but definitely lacking. **1/2
Dominik Mysterio and Rey Mysterio def. Seth Rollins and Murphy
Probably the best match of the night and another great showing for Dominik here. These four have been involved in one of the best feuds of 2020, and this was the next chapter in that story. It started off with the basic tag team formula, but I did like how much they wanted to feature Dominik here, and Rey Mysterio still looks crisp as ever.
As for Rollins and Murphy, this was another great showing by the two, especially by Rollins. They’ve been making Dominik look very strong in this feud, and this was another example. With some great near-falls, great tag team work by both teams and a good story told, this was a great effort on both ends with the right team going over. Surprising RETRIBUTION didn’t show up considering their assault last week. ****
Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman and The Fiend (C) – Universal Championship (Triple Threat No Holds Barred Match)
I found it rather funny that WWE kept pushing the fact that this was a no holds barred triple threat match. Do they not understand a triple threat match is technically already no holds barred? There’s no disqualification and you can do whatever you want. It’s kind of like saying a Hell In a Cell No Disqualification Match. Found that interesting.
Anyway, if this is going to be Roman Reigns’ new attitude, sign me the hell up. Don’t know if he’s fully heel, but it definitely looks like it is leaning towards that direction. Between the alliance with Paul Heyman, using a loophole and signing the contract literally moments before the match ended and picking up the bones, he should really be a full-fledged heel by the end of the year.
The actual match itself was a decent brawl. I’ve seen enough of Wyatt and Strowman for one year, and Roman’s new attitude freshens up Smackdown’s main event scene in a badly needed way. Also, props for Charles Robinson selling the ring collapse. Never fails. ***
I really thought Payback was just going to be a glorified RAW since it was an impromptu PPV coming a week after we were able to digest Summerslam. However, Payback turned out to be a very solid PPV from top to bottom. Lee and Orton was the worst match of the night and it was only because it didn’t go long enough. I found everything to be enjoyable in one way or another, we had three title changes and we had story progression as we enter into the fall. Payback 2020 gets an easy thumbs up from me.