WWE  Payback 2020
August 30, 2020
The Amway Center
Orlando, Florida

Watch: WWE Network 

Meet our reviewers:  

Kelly Harrass: Kelly isn’t really sure why this show is happening, especially with it being the first Payback since 2017, but he’s here to review the show nonetheless. When asked for a comment, Kelly said that he hopes Roman is taking care of himself and that Ultraman Zero is the coolest. Follow Kelly on Twitter @comicgeekelly.

Garrett Kidney:  Hello there. SummerSlam was good and Garrett is now the number one Dominik Mysterio stan so he has renewed hope that WWE may produce two good PPVs in a row. Here’s hoping! Follow Garrett on Twitter @garrettkidney

The Riott Squad def. The IIconics 

Garrett: The Riott Squad can trust again and the world rejoices. **

WWE United States Title
Bobby Lashley (w/ MVP & Shelton Benjamin) def. Apollo Crews (c)

Kelly: I assume that while watching this match, I was pretty much stone faced. Thinking about this, I realized that the people on the Thunderdome screens are having to put forth an effort to appear as though they are entertained. Sure, I was entertained by this perfectly fine opener, but nothing compelled me to look shocked or clap or put my hands on my head in disbelief. This begs the question, do these people normally act like this while watching wrestling at home or is it just a put on? And if it is just a put on, are they now part of the show rather than just being a spectator? What once was the role of a fan is closer to being something of a background actor or an extra. Wrestling in 2020 is weird, man. I don’t like thinking this much about belt mutants with webcams. *** 

Garrett: What an enjoyable opener. Lashley has been great for six years now and it’s about time WWE actually let him loose and actually have good matches. At 44 his clock is ticking as a great performer. It’s a shame Crews can never really pick up momentum in WWE but with The Hurt Business being a pushed act and Lashley already losing to Drew this year, Lashley winning was the right call. ***1/2

Big E def. Sheamus

Kelly: Why was Sheamus dressed like a Guy Ritchie character on Talking Smack? Is that his gimmick now? I hope it is. I really liked the last fifth of this match, but I found the rest to be disappointing. I wanted big meaty men bumping meat and I got a bunch of limb work. Just let these dudes go out there and beat the stuffing out of each other. Hopefully this is the start of something big for E, but it certainly didn’t feel like anything other than just another match to me. **¾ 

Garrett: I hate everything about that Talking Smack exchange between Miz and Big E. The question was not “Is Big E good enough to be World Champion?” It’s not “If Big E were to wrestle THE FIEND, would he be the better wrestler?” It’s “Is Big E what WWE management are looking for as a World Champion?” At that stage the entire basis of the television show has collapsed. The internal logic is thrown out the window and everybody is pandering to the whims of a 75 year old man both in reality and in the fantasy of the WWE universe. That sucks. Miz saying “I stopped wearing a headband and they pushed me as a main eventer.” sucks. Commentary talking about whether Big E’s presentation is right instead of whether he’s better than Sheamus sucks. The match didn’t suck at least. A little too plodding and methodical to call anything above good – especially while Sheamus was in control – but it got there in the end giving Big E a win over a credible Sheamus. ***

Matt Riddle def. King Corbin

Kelly: Hey, uh, maybe we shouldn’t bring the allegations against Matt Riddle that were revealed in the Speaking Out movement into storylines. I’d argue that it’s gross on a number of levels. Credit to Michael Cole for not acknowledging it when Corbin tried to bring it up again as trash talk in the ring. The match itself was whatever. I really wish they would stop treating Corbin as though he’s a hall of fame talent, but he’s tall so I guess we’re stuck with him forever. Riddle is just another guy now. ** 

Garrett: *sigh* **

WWE Women’s Tag Team Title
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler def. Bayley & Sasha Banks (c) 

Kelly: Oh wow, there was a team made up of two people who aren’t normally partners and *whispers* they don’t really like each other. And they won the tag titles! WHO COULD HAVE EVER SEEN THIS COMING? My goodness, what a surprise. Ultimately, this match didn’t do much of anything for me, but the finish was cool. **½  

Garrett: Baszler and Jax learned to trust each other and the world rejoices. Seriously, this match had basically the exact same structure as the pre-show match. They just did the same thing twice. At least this was a better match. **3/4

Keith Lee def. Randy Orton 

Kelly: Whoa, Keith Lee actually won! There wasn’t a whole lot to this match, but I enjoyed what we got well enough. Surly veteran Orton dealing out some heavy chops snapped me out of the sleepiness this show lulled me into. With a win like this, it makes it seem like they actually have solid plans for Keith Lee. I loved his sudden win with the Spirit Bomb. Pinning a guy like Randy Orton with it really establishes the move as a death blow. I assume that Randy will beat Lee in a decisive fashion in the coming days because no one can get over, but today I’ll enjoy the win. ***¼ 

Garrett: It really shows the value of having a developmental show where a guy can spend time there to hone their act so by the time you call them up to the main roster you can change everything about them. Wrestling isn’t that hard. Keith Lee was called up to the main roster and he beat a star. It’s a rare sight in modern WWE but that’s what they call a push. Nobody gets that anymore. How long will it last? Who knows! But we’ll take it while we can get it. Good match, too short to be anything real special but Lee won as decisively as you could hope for. Hopefully Lee won’t be wrestling exclusively on Main Event in three months leaving us all wondering how it could go so horribly wrong. ***1/4

Dominik Mysterio & Rey Mysterio def. Murphy & Seth Rollins

Kelly: Before we get to this particular match, I really have to ask why we’re still having this feud. Seth Rollins took out Rey Mysterio’s eye. Shouldn’t that be the end of the feud? Where do you go from there? Short of one of them losing a limb, anything else feels like a deescalation. As stupid as it was, we saw Rey’s eye pop out of his head. I don’t know if Rey and Dominik can ever really get even in a satisfying way. Like most of the matches in this feud, the in-ring here was very good. These four men have great chemistry and any potential weak spots in Dominik’s game are totally hidden. A couple sentences ago, I was pretty critical of this feud, but it’s easily my favorite thing going in the company right now. Turns out that letting good wrestlers have good matches makes for a good feud. Who knew? I’m assuming that Rey’s match with Rollins tomorrow on Raw will probably be the end of this, but I kind of hope it isn’t. ***¾ 

Garrett: This is my real main event. Legitimately a good 80% of the reason I volunteered to review this show was my excitement for this match. I’m all in on Dominik. He is WWE’s ace and I am firmly on the Dominik Mysterio bandwagon. This was tonnes of fun, they protected Dominik well (and I loved the spot where he seemed to get the hot tag only to immediately get cut off because he’s a rookie), Rey continues to be an ageless wonder and Rollins and Murphy were as solid as ever. I wish WWE had a real tag team division that Rey and Dominik could tear it up in. They’re a breath of fresh air as a team. At least there should be cool matches against The Street Profits and Andrade and Garza. Real good stuff. ***3/4

WWE Universal Title No Holds Barred Triple Threat Match
Roman Reigns def. The Fiend (c) and Braun Strowman

Kelly: Bray brought out the mallet and I had flashbacks to Hell in a Cell 2019. WWE is specifically targeting Garrett and I. For the most part, this was the exact same match we got last week from Braun and Fiend, but with a special bonus ring falling apart. I’ve got to say the referee flopping over the top rope with the impact is the funniest thing I’ve seen on WWE TV in quite a while. Thankfully, this was mercifully shorter than I was expecting. Roman played it smart and skipped out on the walk and brawl. They want Roman to be the heel, but he’s incredibly relatable here. I would absolutely kick The Fiend in the balls if given the chance. It feels like I’ve become desensitized to The Fiend because this wasn’t as awful as I was expecting. I mean, it wasn’t good, but I don’t feel upset after watching this. Roman winning certainly helped that. I’d probably be upset if The Fiend ripped Roman’s tongue out or something. It could always be worse. That’s 2020 in a nutshell. **½ 

Garrett: I have never felt more betrayed than being tricked into reviewing a mostly Fiend/Strowman match. Especially so with the return of The Mallet. The Mallet should be like Thor’s hammer and only The Fiend can lift it. Or it should be even more like Thor’s hammer – fictional and not involved in wrestling matches. They basically did the same match as last week with an added ring explosion spot. Gotta get MORE WWE tropes in there. I’m so upset that the empty arena era has robbed us of the massive pop Roman Reigns would have gotten Low blowing The Fiend as WWE’s heel turn attempt accidentally gets Roman more over than ever. Because you know that’s exactly what would have happened with an audience – Roman would be a huge babyface beating these nerds. A complete nothing match really but the right result. **1/4