June 3, 2014 by Joey Keogh
Another Pay-Per-View is upon us, this one as a result of a desire for RETRIBUTION, for REVENGE, for RESOLUTION. But, since those aren’t punchy enough titles, it’s called simply Payback, whatever that word entails. Ever since the venue for this particular show was announced as Chicago, we’ve been preparing ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of “CM Punk” chants. In fact, they start even before Alex Riley has taken his seat on the so-called expert panel next to those people about whom we might actually care – hell, they may have even begun cheering during NXT Takeover, which is sad because it wasn’t terrible like it was expected to be.
The theme tune for tonight isn’t revealed to be by, er, Aloe Blacc until later in the show, which is odd for WWE, so for the moment it sounds like a really terrible Chris Cornell knockoff (and his solo stuff wasn’t great, even if he did wear a variety of fantastically billowing blouses to perform it). Booker T seems eager to counteract this weirdness by sporting a massive bun on the top of his head, while Josh Matthews looks ready to kill someone and Kofi Kingston is downtrodden about his lack of a match and the fact his suit is beige. Backstage, 3MB are giving a ridiculous pep talk to Hornswoggle before his match up with El Torito, whose tail is growing back slowly but surely.
Pre-Show Match: Hair -v- Mask: Hornswoggle -v- El Torito
What is there really to say about a comedy match such as this? There are lots of headbutts, a huge amount of bouncing off each other and the ropes, some impressive acrobatics and a lot of jeering from the sidelines. Torito is boasting a 2/3rds jersey, because Michael Jordan is number 23 and that is a funny joke that someone came up with. There is an interesting moment when he is using the ref to bounce off as he continuously pins his opponent over and over. When Hornswoggle tries to replicate this movement, he face-plants onto the mat. This is also a funny joke that someone came up with. His teammate Heath Slater chases Torito under the ring at one point, while brandishing a pair of shears, but when he re-emerges, the utensil has been stolen from him by his prey. Then, when Swoggle manages to tug Torito’s mask off, it’s revealed that he’s wearing another underneath it. “His real face is a mask” JBL notes, in mock horror. The action rattles on for a bit, with a few laughs here and there but not much to justify the length of the match, until Torito emerges victorious and we are subjected to what feels like an hour of him trying to shave Swoggle’s head with various utensils.
Winner: El Torito (and his many, many masks)
Next up, there’s a promo backstage with Rybaxel that is funnier than the rest of the pre-show combined, as they try to intimidate the Rhodes Brothers with a combination of schoolboy bully tactics and their best buddy love affair. The Rhodes get a little promo after, about how they’ve overcome their differences or whatever, because brothers rule and their bond is unbreakable! Back at the “expert” panel, Booker T is asking Kofi Kingston if he’s a Boliever, to which Kofi replies that he doesn’t know what that means.
But never mind, because Kofi has a match tonight, as Booker is delighted to announce! And thankfully he has his ring gear with him always, so he’s ready for it. He skips off to get ready as the show proper kicks off and a weird voice-over tells us that every man wants “retribution” or whatever. As the camera pans over the crowd, several million Punk T-shirts can be seen, but absolutely no signs whatsoever. Perhaps they were all confiscated? Or Chicagoans aren’t terribly artistic?
US Championship Match: Sheamus -v- Cesaro
The great Paul Heyman kicks things off (thankfully, because nobody really cares about this match) in spectacular fashion by responding to Punk chants with a rather succinct “He’s not here tonight, he’s watching the Blackhawks get their streak broken by the LA Kings” much like his client Brock Lesnar, and well, you know the rest. It’s a brilliant opening, but it doesn’t get quite as much of a reaction as it should, probably because everyone loves Heyman so damn much. Cesaro does a funny walk to the ring, puffing up his chest so hard it’s a wonder he doesn’t pass out halfway there, and Sheamo is booed out of it once again. It’s a messy brawl from the get-go, with the commentators making a fleeting mention of the Andre The Giant memorial trophy that Cesaro won that time, and which nobody has mentioned since. JBL also refers to Heyman as “Paul-rus” which is pretty great, considering his jowls are jiggling animatedly throughout. There are lots of pretty brutal kicks and uppercuts before Sheamo goes for the inevitable Ten Beats. But there are several more near misses before either manages to gain any kind of dominance over the other. In the end, though, Sheamo blocks a Neutraliser and counters with the White Noise which leaves Cesaro visibly broken. He follows it up with a crazy Cloverleaf, which his opponent powers out of to swing him about twenty times over. Though wobbly, Cesaro manages to land a Neutraliser but Sheamo counters with a pin to win – nothing too spectacular, just a pin – and that’s that.
Winner: Sheamus (retaining – oh, the excitement!)
Tag Team Match: The Rhodes Brothers -v- Rybaxel
Rybaxel enter first, proudly sporting their friendship beanies, which apparently give them special powers or something. They look a lot like cartoon bullies, but that’s kind of what makes them so much fun. They may not be as skilled or as quick as the Rhodes boys, but they’re bigger, meaner, tougher. And they love each other, so that’s sweet. JBL reckons Goldust should throw Cody under the bus, although it’s unclear why. He’s not a bad match for Ryback, surprisingly, and manages to spar quite well with him throughout, although an early attempt at a moonsault goes horribly, painfully wrong. Ryback manages a pretty decent Suplex at one stage, pinning Goldust afterwards. He takes most of the bumps throughout but when his brother seemingly has it won with Ryback pinned, a swift intervention from his teammate Curtis Axel is what ends it for them as Ryback turns it around to pin Cody and win. Following their defeat, Cody grabs a mic and tells his brother sadly that he deserves a better tag team partner than him. Considering so little has been done to build this feud, this development barely stirs a ripple in the crowd.
Winners: Rybaxel (they can celebrate with more matching accessories)
Alexander Rusev -v- Big E
Finally, Rusev is up against someone his own size. But before we can get to that, his manager Lana is here to piss everyone off once again by informing the assembled crowd that “In Russia, we laugh at you”, which is probably true because most countries find the idea of America pretty comical (except for America itself, which thinks it’s great). Rusev emerges brandishing a Russian flag which he waves around a bit too enthusiastically. Big E has an American flag, which means he gets a bigger cheer and a “USA” chant to boot. The two also duel via their flags before the match begins, which is rather odd. Rusev delivers a rather impressive Suplex, as the crowd chant for Ziggler, and Lana‘s cleavage provides inspiration ringside. E then spears Rusev through the ropes in a moment that actually deserves the four replays it gets, before a kick to the jaw and an Accolade end it all for him.
Winner: Alexander Rusev (his finisher is already dull as fuck)
Kofi Kingston -v- Bo Dallas
Kofi has a match, y’all! But is he warmed up enough? Booker seemed concerned earlier. Bo is here, looking thrilled as always, as he tells a confused Kofi, along with everyone else in attendance, that all we need to do is “bo-lieeeeeve”. Before the two of them can get into it though, fire signals Kane‘s arrival and Dallas flees the ring. Kane chucks Kofi out, before administering a chokeslam, followed by a tombstone piledriver. There’s more fire as he wanders off, leaving Bo to stand over Kofi and tell him again to bolieve. There’s a “We bolieve” chant which feels a bit forced, but whatever. So, is Kane just a loose cannon at this stage? Is he going to interfere at random now?
Intercontinental Championship Match: Bad News Barrett -v- Rob Van Dam
BNB’s bad news tonight is that he’s going to win, which isn’t actually bad news at all, especially given his opponent is RVD. There’s a decent reaction to both men, with chants for both borne mostly of the fact that their acronyms are easy to repeat over and over and over. The commentators shill the Network as a thrust kick literally kicks things off, with most of the action which follows revolving being thrown into, or beaten against, the barricade. BNB administers the classic Foley elbow from the apron again, while RVD sticks to the old reliables with the Rolling Thunder and the 5-Star Frog Splash, which he misses as Barrett aims for the Bullhammer, followed by the Winds Of Change. There’s an interesting swinging DDT before Barrett finishes RVD off with another Bullhammer, relegating him to lying on the mat like a big, bloated rave whale.
Winner: Bad News Barrett (not bad news at all)
What’s perhaps most shocking about this PPV – aside from the fact that Kofi got a match, but didn’t really – is that King is actually drinking his Diet Mountain Dew. The bottles are usually only there for product placement purposes, and the commentators would usually die before opening one, but even JBL follows suit a bit later, barely touching the liquid to his lips before pulling it away again and going “Mmmm” like he’s just unintentionally drank Cole’s piss bottle (we don’t know how long they’re sitting there for, or if they even get toilet breaks okay!?).
Steph appears dressed like a plumpy president’s wife in a dress which showcases her rubbish boob job and thanks the crowd for their warm welcome because she’s awesome at this. Daniel Bryan strolls in to an actual warm welcome, alongside his wife, whose tits are not suffocating in her dress unlike her sister’s whose genuinely looked as though they were trying to escape her chest when she was being interviewed earlier. Steph hopes the two will have “weird, bearded babies” some day but for the moment, he has to choose his belts or his wife’s job.
As the crowd chant for Punk again, Steph acknowledges that “they want you to quit, just like CM Punk did” which, again, doesn’t get a big enough reaction because maybe Chicago is still sore. This whole segment goes on for far too long, especially considering we paid for matches, not mindless chatter, but the end result is that Brie quits and can’t even deliver that line with any conviction. A slap to her boss’s face looks about as real as the boobs trying to escape her sister’s chest. A “Yes” chant fills the arena as Steph runs off awkwardly, looking suspiciously like a man in heels as she does so.
Last Man Standing Match: John Cena -v- Bray Wyatt
Considering this is arguably the most well-promoted match of the night, with the biggest amount of heat behind it, it doesn’t really need the whole “last man standing” gimmick, but anything that gets these two in a ring is good. Cena is booed out of it, of course, while Bray is cheered to the rafters, even with his cheap pop and fake lantern (is Kane the only one who can be trusted with real fire?) There’s an AMAZING, giant Cena doll being paraded about in the crowd – hopefully that kid won’t cut his hair and then regret it after, like so many Barbies. Anyway, The Usos are involved in this match somehow because they are – really, this could be no DQ and we wouldn’t know the difference – but their presence doesn’t really add much to the proceedings, save a few cool leaps here and a decent uppercut there. Wyatt goes for the Sister Abigail early on, and Cena counters with the Attitude Adjustment. Tables and chairs are utilised to varyingly exciting degrees as The Usos challenge the other Wyatts outside the ring. Harper and Rowan intervene to attack Cena and then pull Bray up onto his feet so he doesn’t get counted out. Harper performs a Superplex on one of the Usos, through a table, and then follows it up by throwing him through the barricade (occupants of the front row are really getting their money’s worth tonight – especially this chick). The action continues behind the crowd as Cole notes that the two men are “fighting for their lives” which is highly dramatic, even by pro-wrestling standards. Cena positions Bray over a massive crate and then performs the Attitude Adjustment, putting him through it and covering it over with another. And that’s it, Cena wins. Surprisingly though, his hat/shirts/pants/dignity are not stolen as he makes his way back up the ramp. Oh well, there’s always Raw.
Winner: John Cena (and his massive crates)
Divas Match: Alicia Fox -v- Paige
This match could be for the title but it’s unclear because it’s Divas, and not Total Divas, but actual Divas, so it doesn’t really matter to anyone. Paige is wearing a customised version of her own shirt tonight, which means less cleavage. Alicia stalks ringside, looking for shit to steal, but finds only an empty soda cup this time around. Her opponent dominates from early on, as Alicia screams “she wants to ruin my faaaaace” to nobody in particular. The two take turns slamming each other’s faces into the mat before Paige delivers a decent Suplex, followed up by the Scorpion (which is still NOT modified, Cole) to win. Alicia freaks out and runs about doing that thing she’s been doing for weeks that got old after the first fucking time. She then leaves in tears, echoing Steph’s performance earlier, only ever so slightly less mannish.
Winner: Paige (retaining, but who cares)
Main Event: Evolution -v- The Shield
How lucky are we that Evolution are headlining yet again tonight? After all, we cannot get enough of this non-feud. It’s thrilling, especially when Batista gets to talk or Triple H wears a tie. It actually gets its own soft rock theme tune tonight, which is too much, even for a good feud. The oldies emerge first, with Boo sporting blue in spite of the fact his teammates are both in black. They’re booed like hell. The Shield enter to rapturous applause, with Dean Ambrose working the crazy eyes as only he can. A sign which reads “Spear Me Roman” is visible throughout, which makes the match seem even more homoerotic than usual (is that Punk dressed as a clown in the front row or has he gone totally incognito and hidden himself in Batista‘s sporty blue socks?) This is a fairly standard match, for the most part, with lots of bodies flying every which way – a very lucky lady ends up with Ambrose in her lap, while another takes a selfie with Boo’s butt – and the cameramen struggling to move out of the way to catch all of the action. An attention-starved, cornrow-sporting (white), very ugly dude, sat directly behind the announce table, who looks like he’s wandered here from The Gathering takes his moment in the spotlight to smooch the guy next to him on the cheek and then milk it for about a million years after. He’s cool. The Shield hold Trips in the corner so they can beat the shit out of him, but Rollins takes it harder than anyone, as per usual, and looks like he’s totally dead at one point. Reigns is thrown through the announce table after Orton meticulously unplugs everything, conscious of the injury he suffered to his shoulder thanks to a wayward monitor a few weeks back. Evolution are destroying Reigns with their fists when his teammates launch separately at them, leading Trips to perform the Pedigree on Rollins. The action focuses on Reigns, as it’s 3-on-1 in the ring, and Batista administers a weak-looking spinebuster. Reigns’ top and protective vest are removed – much to every woman in attendance’s delight – as Kendo sticks are taken out and Evolution stalk his battered body. They bash the hell out of him with the sticks, then follow up this assault with the use of the steel steps as Reigns tries to regain his strength. Eventually, he manages a Superman Punch on Orton as Trips focuses on hurting Ambrose with a chair. The action moves up the ramp as Ambrose continues to take a beating from Evolution when suddenly, from out of nowhere, Rollins leaps from the Titantron to tackle all of them at once. They move back into the ring as Rollins aims for the top rope but Boo counters with a spear, followed by a Batista Bomb. Reigns spears him, eliminating him, as Orton delivers the RKO on Rollins, who survives (somehow). Ambrose takes over to administer the Dirty Deeds on Orton, eliminating him in the process. Trips grabs a sledgehammer (just like the poster for this PPV teased he would!) and aims for Ambrose, but Rollins launches out of nowhere once again and a spear by Reigns ends the carnage and wins it for The Shield, who struggle to even find the energy to fist each other afterwards. Reigns puts his top back on though, as Ambrose stands on Trips’ exhausted body in triumph.
Winners: The Shield (Batista never should’ve worn blue, you guys)
This wasn’t the strongest PPV overall, but it ended well and there were moments of greatness throughout. Cena v Wyatt was a standout, as it was at ER, there were some great spots during the BNB/RVD bout and Rybaxel did a surprisingly good job against the Rhodes Brothers, even if their internal feud has no real legs yet. It would’ve been cool to see Bo and Kofi get an actual match, along with Rusev and Big E, but there may be time for that on this week’s Raw so we’ll let it go for now.
Payback isn’t one of the biggies, so we can forgive it for being a bit lacking in excitement, but it’s only a few weeks until Money In The Bank so even if we are feeling a bit hard done by, there’s something to (maybe) look forward to soon. More Punk chants, ahoy!