Written By: Traves Bezenar
(W)Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler
This was the right match to open the show. It had enough hype behind it to get the crowd invested while not taking away from the main card. Corbin put on an excellent showing as a heel in the bout. His facial expressions and teasing of the crowd got him some amazing heat. Likewise, Dolph Ziggler earned his title as ‘The Show Stealer” with an amazing display of “ring IQ” as Mauro Ranallo called it. Sadly the ending of the match lead much to be desired with Ziggler stealing a win via roll-up and the announcers blaming Corbin’s inexperience for the loss. In my opinion the announce team should never say anything that could be considered disparaging of the worker’s abilities.
United States Championship
(W)Kalisto(C) vs Ryback
I’m a little torn on this match to be honest. It had some amazing points. For instance, Ryback’s entrance and nod to Chicago native, CM Punk was a great way to build some much needed heat for the match. Plus Kalisto put on an amazing show of athletics that could make the average person’s jaw the floor. That said, they match had a lot of low points too. The big apron DDT spot was clearly botched and Kalisto nearly broke his back on the ring apron on a suicide dive. If Ryback hadn’t been there to catch home, Kalisto would be on the injured reserve right now. The ending of the match was amazing with Ryback hitting an amazing ‘Avalanche Gorilla Press’ and going for a top rope dive that was dodged by Kalisto. Ryback then picked up the loss after taking a ‘Selena Del Sol’.
WWE Payback Main Card
#1 Contender's Match (Tag Titles)
Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs The Vaudevillians
This match had a lot of promise but sadly never got going. Early on in the match Enzo Amore hit his upper chest and neck while attempting to slide out of the ring and had to be taken to hospital for his injuries. Updates were giving throughout the remainder of the show confirming that Enzo had suffered a concussion. The severity of the concussion has yet to be released but Enzo was released from hospital and looked to be in relative good shape. We at ‘Midnight Drive-Thru’ wish Enzo a speedy recovery and quick return to the ring.
(W)Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn
Easily one of best matches of the night. Owens and Zayn brought the house down with their amazing chemistry and dare defying maneuvers. ‘The Frog Splash’ Owen’s hit on Zayn was a thing of beauty, a real marvel for a man his size, and easily the best version of the move WWE has seen since the late Eddie Guerrero. On Sami’s end he delivered with a plethora of fan favorite movies like ‘The Blue Thunder Bomb’, ‘Michinoku Driver’, and an awesome DDT spot that needs to be seen to truly be appreciated. The match ending was as satisfying as the rest of the match with a great finishing sequence. After the bell Owens went into full heel mode by berating Byron Saxton and then joining him on commentary.
(W)The MIz(C) vs Cesaro
Yet another show stealing match. The Miz and Cesaro pulled out all the stops to put on one of the best matches of the card. They were accompanied by Kevin Owens on commentary who was spending his time cutting down the participants and the other members of the commentary team. Eventually Zayn returned for his revenge and the two fought at ringside leading to a distraction that cost Cesaro the match. Things fell apart further from there with KO takin out Zayn, Cesaro, and frightening away The Miz, before holding the IC Title high above his head.
Grudge Match 2
Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho
What a disappointment this match was. I don’t understand how a match with one of the greatest all time wrestlers and the current fan favorite could be so bad, but it was. Firstly there was no chemistry between the two opponents leading to all sorts of problems in the ring. Secondly there were so many bitches that one might think it was the first match for both of these veterans. The worst culprit of all was the terrible bump Jericho took on a ‘Tornado DDT’, it looked simply atrocious. Jericho was also gassed early on in the match which was a possible contributor to this cluster fuck of a wrestling match.
WWE Women’s Championship
Charlotte vs Natalya
Another match I was severely torn on. On one hand I was excited to see the women in such a high spot on the card but on the other I hated the ending. The match itself was good, not great, but better than the average WWE women’s match. The main problem with the in ring action was Charlotte’s lack of selling. I did really like the ‘German Suplex’ that Natty gave Charlotte and the bump looked amazing on TV. Now for the ending… what a mess. The writers tried to redo the iconic ‘Montreal Screw Job’ for the millionth time and it fell incredibly flat. That was followed by Bret Hart trying to lock Ric Flair in a ‘Sharpshooter” that looked (and this is me being kind) like an abortion. It’s sad to see Bret in such bad shape, and I know he is recovering from a cancer surgery, but he should never be in the ring again. Let his legacy be his legacy, don’t tarnish the great memories we have of his with this trash.
Mr. McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon
This segment was supposed to be the highlight of the night with either Shane or Stephanie being given control of Raw by their father. Instead what we got was a meandering promo that went on way longer than needed that resulted in the lamest of conclusions. Shane’s work on the mic left a lot to be desired with him tripping over his own words several times. Vince didn’t fair much better with his heel/face flop midway through the promo. The best part of the whole thing was Steph’s solid work on the microphone and ability to garner massive amounts of hate from the crowd. Ultimately Vince gave control of the show to both of his kids saying they would either have to slit each other’s throats or work together.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
AJ Styles vs (W)Roman Reigns(C)
My god, what a surprise this match turned out to be. At the start the rowdy Chicago crowd wanted nothing to do with Roman Reigns and booed him to near deafening levels. However by the end of the match the crowd was split definitely split on Reigns with many cheering his victory. The match was full of action from start to finish and both men deserve praise for it. Styles looked awesome using his high octane offense against the much larger Reigns. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how well Roman played to the crowd’s hatred for him with his mannerism and facial expressions. I can honestly say I would have given this atch a 5/5 if not for the complicated series of endings. The match saw Styles win twice by DQ and then being restarted by Shane and Steph respectively. In the end Roman picked up the win after nailing Styles with a spear.
WWE Payback 2016
All things considered, This was a hell of a PPV. WWE did a good job promoting all the undercard, midcard, and uppercard matches with video packages. The pacing in most of the matches was good and their placement on the card were all spot on. The main event was one of the best Roman Reigns has ever had and showed why WWE has such high hopes for him. If WWE programming continues on this path than we’re in for a hell of a year.