WWE Payback 2016
Allstate Arena – Chicago, Illinois
May 1, 2016

Watch: WWE Network

WWE Payback 2016, live in front of a usually interesting Chicago area crowd at the Allstate Arena, features a Roman Reigns title defense against former TNA World Champion, ROH champion, and NJPW champion, AJ Styles. Plus, the first ever singles match on WWE PPV between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, and much more.

Getting you hyped for Sunday’s WWE Payback is this All Star VOW panel, as voted on by nobody.

  • Rich Kraetsch (@VoicesWrestling): Newly married. Will be in attendance at Payback!
  • Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): Host, Shake Them Ropes. Author, Masked No More: How TJ Perkins Finally Managed to Wrestle in WWE.
  • Jeremy Sexton (@JeremySexton): Writer, Lucha Underground at VOW. Byron’s second-cousin.

WWE Kickoff Show
WWE United States Championship

Kalisto © vs. Ryback

Rob McCarron: The highly anticipated rematch from WrestleMania 32. Amazing it’s on the pre-show, as I’m probably the most excited for this particular match. Kalisto’s speed against Ryback’s quick wit – what will give? Probably nothing. I assume we’re getting a 30 minute time limit draw. Does WWE still have time limits? Prediction: Kalisto

Rich Kraetsch: Ryback and Kalisto both seemed undermotivated by their spot at WrestleMania. Now they are in the same spot… at WWE Payback. These two can have great matches if given the time and platform. Unfortunately, this is not the time nor the platform. Prediction: Kalisto

Jeremy Sexton: This is left this over from WrestleMan… wait, what? This is happening again? These guys didn’t even make Raw on Monday, but we’re getting a rematch here? Kalisto has become the Kickoff King here lately and it feels to me like they don’t really have much of a plan for him. I don’t think that bodes well for his US Title run. Would they change a title on the pre show? I normally wouldn’t think so, but for this one I might just have to make an exception. Prediction: Ryback

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Rob McCarron: Boom boom, Colt Cabana. Boom boom, Colt Cabana. Boom boom! Go back to HWA, Dolph! Baron Corbin should get the win in this, his debut PPV singles match. I have a super weird gut feeling right now, however, that they’ll have Dolph win, followed by a Baron beatdown to set up something for Extreme Rules. I’ll go with the more likely, however. Prediction: Baron Corbin

Rich Kraetsch: Image being on the pre-show while this match presumably stays on the main show. What a world. I’ve never been a huge fan of Corbin but he’s improved tremendously over the last year and while he’s not ready for the main roster quite yet… this may be as ready as he gets. Dolph, man, oh man. I was a big fan for many years of the guy but he’s become an immediate turn off, check the phone, go to the other room wrestler. The character, the look, the promos, even the wrestling, nothing clicks with me anymore. He’s in massive need of the ol’ “fresh coat of paint.” Worse yet, he’s regressing into a jobber to the young guys role far sooner than he probably should. Prediction: Baron Corbin

Jeremy Sexton: I understand *that* these guys are fighting, but I’m not really sure *why* these guys are fighting. They seem to be super upset with each other and I have no idea why. If they’re able to keep the intensity up and make this a wild brawl, it could be fun. Corbin’s going to do some big guy offense and Ziggler’s going to sell like a man man for it. Dolph might be able to make this match interesting, but making people care about Baron Corbin is probably asking too much. Prediction: Baron Corbin

WWE Tag Team Championship
#1 Contender Match
Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains

Rob McCarron: The NXT Tag Team Special – Vaudevillains seem to make sense with the tradition babyface vs heel dynamic for a tag team title match, however, Enzo & Cass have the greatest upside. Will Enzo & Cass get set back up with the Dudleys for a tables match at Extreme Rules, leaving Vaudes vs New Day as a possibility? That seems likely, actually. I’d say Vaudevillains get the win with some help from the Dudleys. Prediction: The Vaudevillains

Rich Kraetsch: As we talked about on the VOW Flagship podcast this week, both teams have acclimated well to the main roster, maybe even better than we expected out of either. Enzo and Cass can obviously hang from a promo perspective but their work has fit perfectly into the style and they seem destined to be a team in the mix for years to come. The Vaudevillains are victims of WWE’s inexplicable inability to present motives for new acts. They simply arrived and began wrestling. Why though? Who are these guys? Why are they the way they are? You have 7 hours of first-run TV, a three-minute vignette explaining their background isn’t THAT much to ask, is it? Prediction: The Vaudevillains

Jeremy Sexton: I’m not surprised Enzo and Big Cass are here in the finals, since people have been talking up and anticipating their arrival for quite some time on the main roster. The Vaudevillains, on the other hand, I did not see making it this far. Nevertheless, here we are, and the fine folks at Booty-O’s™ have graced us with an NXT match to crown a new #1 contender. I would think this would be an opportunity to give Enzo and Cass a boost, but I don’t think the Dudleys are done with them just yet. Sure, Enzo and Cass won clean on last week’s Raw, but when has that stopped them before? And here’s an opportunity to get two tag feuds for the price of one. Vaudevillains make a run at the champs, meanwhile the Dudleys and Enzo/Cass pair off. It’s not what I would do, but I think they might be going this way. Prediction: The Vaudevillains

WWE Women’s Championship
Charlotte © vs. Natalya

Rob McCarron: They did this better in NXT. Like, a hell of a lot better. When you look at this match and its build, it’s a wonder why so many people think Bayley could be as effective on the main roster versus NXT. They just don’t give the time and care to long term stories on the main roster as they do in NXT, based on a number of factors. What’s next for Charlotte after this match? No idea. But I have a better idea of what is next for Natalya, and its a lot of Superstars and Main Event time. Prediction: Charlotte


Rich Kraetsch: Unfortunately, this match will be overshadowed by Ric Flair’s recent airport transgressions. Whether he was drunk or not, arrested or not, it doesn’t matter. He’s become a complete embarrassment to this company and with his “kill yourself” comment to Natalya on SmackDown (which, of course, was edited), he’s not even worthwhile on the mic anymore. It’s cool that they are bringing the Hart/Flair connection into this match but really, it doesn’t need it. I’d be happy with these two just going out and having an important, solid WWE Women’s division match. Leave Bret and Ric home. Prediction: Charlotte

Jeremy Sexton: Speaking of NXT matches, here we have a rematch of one of the great women’s matches in the company complete down to Ric Flair and Bret Hart being at ringside. This should be pretty good or even great, but going in I give Nattie basically no chance to win here. Charlotte’s going to lose the belt eventually, but Nattie’s not the gal and now is not the time. Prediction: Charlotte

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

Rob McCarron: So excite. So excite. First time ever on WWE PPV, in what is likely a match that shall happen again at Extreme Rules. I believe, based on the thinking that Zayn will get a rematch at Extreme Rules, that Owens will win the first encounter due to some underhanded means involving a weapon that will come back into play at the next PPV. Chicago will be quite enthused for this match, which will give it a big time feel more than many other matches on the show. Chicago’s getting a good one. Prediction: Kevin Owens


Rich Kraetsch: Eeeeee!!! Two of my favorite wrestlers of all-time reigniting one of my favorite wrestling feuds ever. And I get to see it live. I can’t wait. They’ve finally done a bit of background on these two and while you have to dance around some of their past, particularly the old El Generico thing, the story, the videos all make sense. Moreover, the Chicago/Rosemont crowd tends to skew more “smart” so many in the crowd will know of this background and likely be hot from the opening bell to the finish. Look for plenty of callback spots to their famous matches of yesteryear. Also look for this to be the easy choice for Match of the Night. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Jeremy Sexton: Iconic NXT rematch number 2! If this match weren’t taking place in Chicago, I might be worried about the crowd reaction. The video package from this past Monday’s Raw was good, but the build to this still feels like it’s missing something to me. Thankfully, I expect the crowd in Rosemont to be clued in to the history of these guys and will come expecting a great match. I’m expecting one too. If this isn’t match of the night, I’ll be surprised. These guys couldn’t have a bad match together if they tried. Prediction: Sami Zayn

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho

Rob McCarron: I pick Dean Ambrose to win matches a lot on PPV, matches he seems the most logical to win. Then, guess what? He loses. A lot. Jericho, the opposite. I don’t expect him to win, and then he does. Routinely. Yet, I’m going against the grain on both again to predict an Ambrose victory. I’m insane. Prediction: Dean Ambrose

Rich Kraetsch: As Chris Jericho regresses into his chubby mid-40s phase, he’s lost a lot of the great match ability he once had. Unfortunately, that puts a cap on just how good matches like this can be. We saw even with a prime AJ Styles that Jericho just can’t physically “go” like he used to. Regardless, the build to this match between two of the best talkers in the game was a lot of fun and I expect this to be good… just not great. Prediction: Dean Ambrose

Jeremy Sexton: I’m surprised Dean Ambrose is even going to be physically able to compete after receiving a submission move on a table. It’s the most deadly way to stretch your opponent! This match depresses me. At the beginning of the year, if you told me we’d be getting a Chris Jericho/Dean Ambrose program, I’d have been super excited for it. Unfortunately, after Jericho’s disappointing matches with AJ Styles and a build that relied heavily on Zany Dean Ambrose, I have a hard time feeling anything for this. I guess Jericho will win, but I have no idea what they’re trying to do here. Prediction: Chris Jericho

WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz © vs. Cesaro

Rob McCarron: I’m super feeling this current Miz character. It’s all due to himself being refreshed having his wife nearby. Maryse has been a revelation. Another Miz push – thankfully! Dude has been quite great on a low key level, acting as a consistent pillar of a heat-seeking personality on WWE television. Cesaro, also a revelation since returning, has done well to keep crowds behind him, enthused in his work. The go-home segment on Raw was amazing, and showed exactly why you should cheer Cesaro and boo Miz. Chicago will be all in on Cesaro on Sunday. Think about this, for as “weird” as Chicago crowds have been in the past in WWE’s minds, booing faces and cheering heels, we won’t see that on Sunday. Cesaro, Zayn, Styles, and Ambrose – all babyfaces, all having the backing of Chicago. That’s what happens when the babyface characters are actually interesting, and facing obstacles without foolishness (sans Ambrose, who is always quite foolish.) Man, this show will be fun. Cesaro will be fun. He won’t be a winner, though. Prediction: The Miz


Rich Kraetsch: I’m not feeling this current Miz character. It’s no fault of his own, he’s killed it. Maryse has been great as well. It’s just… another Miz push. Does anyone really need this? Was anyone REALLY clamouring for him to have another run with a secondary belt? Look, I’m no Miz hater, in fact, I’ve defended him time and time again but he’s essentially playing this character (or variations of this Miz character) since 2006. He won the WWE Championship six years. That’s a long time in wrestling, it’s perfectly normal to tired of someone in that span. Match quality wise, I expect a really solid sleeper-type match because, well, Cesaro’s in it and he’s pretty much incapable of having anything less than a good match. Prediction: The Miz

Jeremy Sexton: In the inverse of Ambrose/Jericho, I’m actually looking forward to this match. Miz has never been a tremendous worker, but could Cesaro lead him to a good match? Most definitely. Hopefully this is the beginning of a push for Cesaro that moves him far away from The Miz and lets him finally spread his wings. Prediction: Cesaro

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Roman Reigns © vs. AJ Styles

Rob McCarron: This is the big one. Not just for the match itself, which is a true, fresh WWE PPV main event – but also the question of what is happening with Anderson & Gallows. We may not get an answer on this directly, but I think it is likely. To say I’m excited for the entire development would be an understatement. I want the match, I want the result, I want the impact of Gallows & Anderson… I want it all! GIve it to me, WWE. Soak me in it! Prediction: Roman Reigns


Rich Kraetsch: Man, is this going to be fun live. If you had told me even 6 months ago that at the WWE PPV following WrestleMania, Styles would be in the main event, vying for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, I would’ve told Teddy Long to throw away the key. You’re nuts. There’s no way. Well, here we are! My one issue with the match is all eyes and focus will be on Anderson & Gallows. We know they’ll be involved in some way with this match so everything until they come out will be inconsequential. Likewise, the result is in no doubt, Roman Reigns will win by hook or by crook so that takes some of the intrigue away. Regardless, this is going to be a super fun, passionate main event that could have huge ramifications on the future of WWE. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Jeremy Sexton: I just want to take a second to point out that Roman Reigns is wrestling AJ Styles for the WWE title. That’s just cool. There’s a lot of intrigue here as to what Anderson & Gallows’ roles will be, if anything, and whether or not we’ll see Finn Bálor make an appearance. I think we do get some involvement from the former Bullet Club members, but the finish seems really obvious to me: AJ goes for the springboard elbow and gets Superman punched and KOed for the pin out of mid-air. Prediction: Roman Reigns