WWE Payback 2016
Allstate Arena – Rosemont, IL
May 1, 2016

Watch: WWE Network

The opening match on main show broadcast of WWE Payback, set to be a WWE Tag Title contendership match between Enzo & Big Cass vs Vaudevillains, ended up in a no-contest. Early in the bout, Enzo Amore was set to slide from the ring to the outside, but his head caught up on the middle rope. The accident knocked Enzo out, sending the live crowd into stunned silence while cameras cut to the announce team. The match was abruptly stopped while emergency crews worked on Enzo. Later in the show, Michael Cole announced that Enzo had been taken to a local medical facility, and was alert, talking, and moving his extremities.

Thankfully, the good news on Enzo’s health, after vast worry, allows the show to go on. As we hope Enzo recovers quickly, we continue with WWE Payback with the VOW panel.

Catch the STR Live “WWE Payback” Reaction Show – Live & On Demand HERE!

WWE Kickoff Show
Dolph Ziggler def. Baron Corbin

Rob McCarron: Baron was probably a vast favorite to win the match, but a Dolph win isn’t too surprising. Look, Baron didn’t get a win on his Raw debut over Dolph. Nor did he win here. I doubt the Dolph saga is over, so let’s see what kind of brutal destruction Baron has planned for Dolph at Extreme Rules. *

Bryan Rose: Everyone. Must. Win. And. Lose. To. One. Another. No. Matter. What. *

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WWE Kickoff Show
WWE United States Championship
Kalisto (c) def. Ryback

Rob McCarron: The Ryback worked the crowd so easily into a frenzy with his CM Punk “tribute” (or mockery) entrance. From there, the match was secondary to the hate for Ryback. The “Pre-Show Stopper” was masterful. Kalisto was great himself, and the two put on quite a show in a quick pre-show match. Absolutely fun. ***1/4

Warren Taylor: The Allstate Arena went straight up Philly on the Ryback. The Big Guy got “Goldberg” and “You Can’t Wrestle” chants mere minutes into the match. Poor the Ryback. Sans the silliness with the crowd, this encounter between the two blew their WrestleMania one out of the water. Kalisto bumped and flew around the ring like a pinball. Ryback was great. He “let” the crowd get to him and hit the greatest military press in the history of wrestling. I liked that Kalisto retained because that there might potentially be another encounter between the two for the belt. ***1/2

Bryan Rose: This was a tremendous match. Kalisto’s offense here was on point, probably the best it’s ever been here on the main roster. Ryback did a great job doing some great power spots that occasionally derailed Kalisto’s momentum. I don’t have any earthly idea what they’re doing with Kalisto or this title, but I’d just be fine seeing more matches like this in the future. One of the best pre-show matches in months. ****

Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn

Rob McCarron: Clean in the ring, Owens defeats Zayn in their first-ever one-on-one match on WWE Pay Per View. I thought the result was likely, with a rematch being added to Extreme Rules. However, WWE threw us a curveball in the next segment, and it appears Owens and Zayn are back in the Intercontinental Title picture. The match was super fun live, although hindered in its acceptance a bit by the crowd’s feelings stemming from the Enzo injury. ****

Warren Taylor: Leave it Sami and Kevin to reignite the crowd after they went ice cold due to Enzo Amore’s injury. Any other time I would have dug the hard hitting spots, but they felt like a bit much here. That wasn’t the fault of the two men in the ring, though. This match felt like the opening to something bigger, especially given the beating Zayn received and the heart he showed in defeat. Also, that superkick, pop-up powerbomb spot to end the match, y’all. ***3/4

Bryan Rose: Really good match. Hard to get into after the Amore injury, but these guys worked really hard and hit a bunch of great spots. Don’t know if I would have done that finish so clean and immediately move on to something else, but this is WWE, I expect little in the way of storyline continuity anyway. ***3/4


WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz (c) def. Cesaro

Rob McCarron: Cesaro and Miz started slowly, but that may have been deliberate for the TV audience as Kevin Owens sat in on commentary. Owens getting his new progression into this program was key, and he did well. The match picked up late, with Cesaro dominating much of it. Really, almost all of it. Chaos broke out, though, when Sami Zayn attacked Owens on commentary. Eventually, the fight spilled into the ring, where Miz took advantage of Cesaro’s lack of focus to gain the pinfall victory. Hell broke out further, and at Extreme Rules, it looks like we’re bound for a 4-Way for the IC Title. Awesome! ***1/2

Warren Taylor: Listen, the Miz did his best to change up his game plan from his usual schtick, but no one cared. That’s just a brutal fact. The fans wanted to see Cesaro kick his teeth in. When the Swiss Superman did just that the joint went bananas. Forget Superkick Partys those are so 2014. This year European Uppercut Shindigs are in vogue. Kevin Owens commentary and subsequent brawl with Sami Zayn seamlessly integrated their way into the title match. I have no issue with the Miz getting the cheap due to that. All of a sudden the IC title scene is white hot. ***1/2

Bryan Rose: It’s funny. Miz is supposed to be this great heel, but yet when he was on offense absolutely no one cared. Cesaro made this match with his great offense. Just everything he does is on point. Not as good as other matches on this card tonight, but picked up really well towards the end. A four way with Zayn, Owens, Miz and Cesaro sounds great, but obviously one person doesn’t belong. At least him being with Maryse adds to his act a lot. ***1/4


Dean Ambrose def. Chris Jericho

Rob McCarron: We’ve seen over the last year that Chris Jericho is still dead set on proving he’s one of the best in ring wrestlers in the company. However, his body just doesn’t rise to the occasion as it once did. Here, however, he was close. Jericho absolutely couldn’t mesh with AJ Styles, but Dean Ambrose’s style seemingly fit like a glove. The pair pulled out a fantastic match, continuing the strong presentation of this Payback PPV so far. Injury to Enzo aside and this is a top-to-bottom great show at the halfway mark. ***1/2

Warren Taylor: This match was well on its way to **1/2 range. Then Jericho catapulted Ambrose into the crowd from the German announce table (still getting used to that), and they teased a count out finish in a believable manner for the first time in a good long while. That spot, coupled, with some choice camera work while Ambrose was locked in the Walls–it really highlighted the anguish on his face–changed the complexion of the match. It told a good story, the aged veteran vs. the gritty next in line, and gave Ambrose a big win. Nice work by both men to rescue this match when it was heading south. ***1/2

Bryan Rose: This was really slow to start and hard to get into. But they picked things up and had a fun match, maybe a little too long, but most matches on WWE these days can be pretty long. Jericho seemed slow at spots but by the end they had pretty good chemistry. It’s just pretty apparent Jericho is slowing down as a worker. Not a big problem, but this isn’t the Jericho of 2000 or even 2008. And hey, Ambrose actually got a win when it mattered! What a novel concept for him. ***1/2


WWE Women’s Championship
Charlotte (c) def. Natalya

Warren Taylor: I’m a sucker for any match takes the time to build around limb work. Was this an all time classic? Nah. Was it a decent match with an anachronistic finish? Yep. ***

Bryan Rose: Wasn’t even as close as good as the match they had at Road Block or Takeover. Pretty good for the most part until the hideous finish. I was 10 years old when Survivor Series 1997 happened. I’m 28. I was over it years ago. Bret Hart was over it years ago. Shawn Micheals was over it years ago. But guess who isn’t, and that’s why we got this finish. Yes, it leads to another match, probably a better one, but seriously, can we get over this now? Please? Another great example of WWE presentation vs. NXT presentation too, by the way. ***


The Decision 2016: Stephanie or Shane?

Rob McCarron: “You lost a match to the Undertaker, you shouldn’t even be in the ring right now.” – Vince McMahon. Well, yeah. But here we are anyway. The 2016 version of The Decision took place live, in the ring, at WWE Payback in Chicago. Vince McMahon is set to decide the fate of Raw’s power holder, seemingly between Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon. Well, in an anti-climactic finish, Vince McMahon ultimately gave power to both Shane and Stephanie. Yes, Shane has replaced Triple H effectively in “The Authority.” We still don’t know how Triple H will play into any of this, if he’s even involved at all. For all we know, Trips may be gone for a while from TV. Shane, however is sticking around for a bit. We’ll await Raw in St. Louis tomorrow to see how this will play out short term, but it looks like we’re in for more opening segment in-fighting between the McMahon children.


WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Roman Reigns (c) def. AJ Styles

Warren Taylor: AJ Styles and Roman Reigns worked through two absurd false finishes to create the best WWE World Heavyweight Championship match in months. At its core, this contest revolved around a simple premise: two men putting themselves through hell to be recognized as the very best. That’s not a novel concept folks and let’s hope the WWE remembers that that. Anyways, this was the best Roman Reigns match in a long time. He clearly thrives working as a powerhouse against smaller wrestlers. Credit Styles with a phenomenal sell job because he looked like he took the beating of a lifetime once the dust settled. The Gallows/Anderson interference felt anti-climactic, but at the same time I enjoyed the Usos making the save, way to establish storyline continuity WWE! Take away the extra circulars and this is the WWE MOTY by a wide margin, however I will just have to accept it was a good main event and nothing more. ****

Bryan Rose: I liked this match, but the DQ and countout finishes were lame. This is classic WWE where they need to tell STORIES, so they had the McMahons go out there to reiterate they are both now in charge. It kind of hit me that no matter what year or decade we’re in, we are always going to have them all over TV arguing until we human beings go extinct. Ignoring the silliness, there was a good match here. Reigns is better than people think, and AJ proved last year he’s one of the best around. There was a great spot where AJ did the forearm and they both crashed into the table, really cool. Anderson, Gallows and the Usos all got involved, but they didn’t tease a turn or anything. Reigns winning was what everyone figured, so that’s fine. A rematch with AJ Styles is also cool for Extreme Rules. I liked the majority of this show, and actually it’s one of the better shows WWE put out this year. But for all this talk about being a new era, we’re still having McMahons all over the TV product and they just did a finish right out of 1997. Don’t insult my intelligence by telling me this is a new era – it ain’t. But good match and show overall! ***3/4