WWE Payback starts with a well produced introduction video, with Seth Rollins, John Cena and Rusev featured heavily.
Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler
For those unaware, there was a “kiss my arse” match at Extreme Rules and, in this match, payback will be served as Ziggler, the winner of said match, failed to get a smooch on the backside, with Sheamus forcing an unconscious Ziggler’s face into his pale buttocks instead.
This is the world’s biggest and most popular wrestling promotion, everyone!
So, a rematch…
Despite the absolutely preposterous set up for this match, Ziggler and Sheamus demonstrate that they’re two of the best, yet woefully used, wrestlers that WWE has on its roster.
That’s not to say that this is wrestling at its purest - Sheamus is on the receiving end of Ziggler’s buttocks, unleashing the fury of the mighty Irish one and, eventually, securing him the victory.
Kane and Seth Rollins Talk About Seth’s Match
Backstage, Kane, dressed in his best working clothes, speaks to Seth Rollins as they try to come to an understanding and let bygones be bygones. Kane seems to think that, as the veteran, he’s been the bigger man and hopes that Rollins, whom he’s been trying to protect, loses his match.
Leaving on a threatening note, Rollins walks away whilst Kane laughs mockingly.
Two out of Three Falls Match - New Day vs Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
New Day dance their way to the ring, with Xavier Woods preaching to the crowd. Apparently, all the crowd have to do is Bo-lieve… sorry, “think positive”.
|Kingston taking a double stomp off Cesaro|
Whereas New Day may seem awkward, despite their ability, there’s no issue with the superb performance of Kidd and Cesaro who have gelled as a tag team and shown that personality is just as important as ability.
With the match entering its third fall, the stakes are high for the future of the WWE Tag Team Titles, but it all gets a bit messy and Xavier Woods, who wasn’t in the match, rolls up Cesaro for the win.
New Day retain the WWE Tag Team Titles!
Byron Saxton Interview With Ryback
Ryback doesn’t know what to expect of Bray Wyatt, especially when Wyatt is trying to convince Ryback that he’s worth nothing.
Thankfully, this isn’t going to stop Ryback as he promises to eat the Eater of Worlds.
Ryback vs Bray Wyatt
Wyatt has been playing mind games on the seemingly unstoppable Ryback, hoping to shake his confidence and weaken the hungry beast.
Ryback is the powerful assailant in this one, with Wyatt being no cruiserweight himself, despite occasional moments where he moves into high flying territory. A slow, methodical confrontation ensues, with strength being the deciding factor, until Wyatt hits Sister Abigail and it’s a victory for the Eater of Worlds.
I Quit Match - John Cena vs Rusev
Recapping events since they first clashed at the Royal Rumble, this is a match that focuses on the age old WWF/E story of pride versus arrogance, as seen from both sides of the American/Russian divide.
Cena has, for more than a decade, stood on top of the mountain that is WWE and looks unlikely to step down anytime soon. He’s a modern day superman, a larger than life warrior who overcomes all the odds and reminds us all why we should be proud of what we are - “Rise Above Hate,” as he’d say.
Many people dislike John Cena, their vitriol is well catalogued online, however Marty Scurrl recently put it best - we don’t like John Cena, we dislike the character he’s portraying. He’s become the face of WWE, the man who grants wishes to sick children, entertains his fans and confounds his detractors.. detractors who, for reasons that escape me, don’t choose a Cena match as an opportunity to go to the bar/rest room/food stall, but chant “Cena Sucks” at him with such zeal that it’s practically adoration.
Rusev has, ever since teaming with Lana and becoming a ward of Mother Russia, been the antithesis of Cena’s heroism. He’s just as proud of his homeland, but this sets him at ideological opposites with Cena. Not that this is really about ideals, it’s about good guy vs bad guy.
|Rusev brutalizing Cena|
Watching Rusev brutalise John Cena, Rusev doesn’t over exert himself as he rains blow after blow upon a weakening Cena - a man refusing to say “I quit”. As both men grow increasingly frustrated, they use the ring and arena to try to destroy each other, with the ref randomly asking “do you want to quit?” Laptops, tables, storage containers, AV equipment, pyrotechnics and a multitude of other articles are turned into a weapon until, finally Rusev locks in The Accolade, rendering Cena unconscious - which isn’t, it seems, a criteria for victory.
So enraged is Rusev that he unfastens the top turnbuckle, goes to attack Cena, who grabs the ring rope and locks in an STF which causes Rusev to say, in Russian (or Bulgarian, it’s difficult to say) lots of words until Lana has no choice but to quit on behalf of Rusev!
Cena retains the title.
Kick Off Panel
Renee Young, once more, presents a roundtable, featuring Booker T and Corey Graves - plenty of room at that large table.
In effect, the panel is nothing more than an extra set of commentators, possibly giving the A-team of Cole, JBL and Lawler a breather and a chance to prepare themselves for what’s to come.
A highlight reel from the MegaPowers (Sandow & Axel) vs The Ascension plays, then New Day drink milk from champagne glasses until Byron Saxton interviews them.
Divas Match - The Bella Twins vs Tamina & Naomi
How to follow an “I Quit” match? Let’s have an “I Don’t Care” match as we see The Bella Twins take on Tamina & Naomi. They’ve got a rivalry that seems to stretch back all of two weeks, so there’s a lot invested in this one.
Tamina seems to be stuck in the shuffle of Divas, with no real purpose but a solid wrestling pedigree. The Bellas are the focus of this match, with Naomi being the primary antagonist. The Bellas are a decent tag team, Tamina is the muscle in this match, whilst Naomi has light up boots which probably allowed her to secure the win for her team.
Angry Rusev is Angry
Rusev rants in Russian/Bulgarian, demanding that Lana leaves, before ranting again, and telling Lana to “get out”. She does, this time, allowing Rusev to continue being angry.
Recapping the previous week’s episode Raw, we see Daniel Bryan surrender the Intercontinental Title following a career threatening injury. On the microphone, Bryan delivers a hugely emotional speech, explaining that he can’t be a fighting champion and that his MRI has led to a diagnosis that could sideline him for an indeterminate period.
Daniel Bryan, throughout his time in WWE, has shown himself to be a step above many of his peers and contemporaries in the WWE. His talent was undeniable, but on the microphone he’s been the total package, a consummate professional and a template for anyone who wishes to follow in the footsteps of greatness.
King Barrett vs Neville
Hearing Neville introduced as “The Man That Gravity Forgot” sends shivers of anticipation down spines of British wrestling fans and seeing him in the ring against fellow Brit, Wade Barrett is always going to be spectacle.
A brawler with technical skills against one of the world’s best high flyers, it’s a testament to the talent that Britain has to offer and what it looks like when it’s moulded in the crucible of the WWE.
The fans may fall quiet at points, but that’s because they’re not watching the theatrics that they’re used to, this isn’t “sports entertainment” it’s entertaining wrestling.
As the two men exchange blows, Neville glides around the ring whilst Barrett shows just how powerful he is, until he walks away, giving Neville a countout victory, much to the annoyance of Neville… and the fans.
Fatal Fourway: Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose vs Randy Orton
Kane and Rollins have issues that The Authority can’t effectively resolve, so the plan is that if Rollins doesn’t walk out as Champion, Triple H will fire Kane. Reigns, Ambrose and Orton also have issues with each other, so it’s pretty much every man for himself with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line.
Of the four men, Reigns is the one that divides fans the most - he looks the part, but a few stumbles have seen his stock fall in the WWE Universe and it’s a slow journey to regain their respect. Dean Ambrose, however, is on fire as the “lunatic fringe” and, in this match, he’s “just along for the ride”, fulfilling the dreams of anyone who lives by the mantra “fortune favours the foolish”. Randy Orton has, very much like Cena, become something of a cornerstone of WWE - a consistent performer who has standout moments that everyone talks about. Rollins, by contrast, has been thrust into the limelight by his association with The Authority and their intent on keeping the title on him - it’d be interesting to see how he’d perform without the friends in high places angle.
|Rollins with a superkick on Ambrose|
They may despise Reigns, but when you see the 6ft 3in 265lb deliver an elbow drop by leaping over the top rope, they go wild. Despite moments like this, it’s Ambrose that the fans are truly behind, with their support of Orton coming a close second.
The fans are at their most raucous when Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins tease the reformation of The Shield, only to get louder when they turn on Rollins, and level everyone else. The match boils down to absolute chaos, as all the men take each other out in various ways, until Rollins is able to hit a Pedigree on Orton to retain.
Is it possible that Payback was an ironic name? “Payback” was aimed at we annoying wrestling fans who dislike the direction of WWE, but insist on watching, analysing and criticising their every move, match and star. It was a way for them to say “well, here’s what we do - we put on good matches, we put on bad matches and we can do it all whenever we want… and you’ll watch it.
The “I Quit” match was overly long (even within the context of an “I Quit” match), some of the backstage segments work wore thin, The Divas match was underwhelming and the whole Kane angle now feels overplayed. On the other side of things, premise aside Ziggler vs Sheamus was strong, as was Cesaro & Kidd, Barrett vs Neville is bound to engross British wrestling enthusiasts as it brings together British and American styles flawlessly. Ambrose continues to be in-ring gold (complete with the Kellett ring rebound clothesline) and seeing Rollins attempt to reunite The Shield was comedy gold with a fantastic payoff.
It’s this confounding mix of good and bad - with little in between - that has perplexed many wrestling fans, but kept us all watching. We want to see what happens next because we’re afraid that, if we don’t, we won’t be there for the big moments - the pipebombs, the shock returns, the shock defeats and whatever else the WWE throw in our path.
The DVD features the entertaining Payback Kickoff Match which sees Mega Powers (Damien Sandow as Macho Mandow and Curtis Axel as AxelMania) taking on The Ascension. Comedy versus intensity, with plenty of ability mixed in makes this worth watching in place of some of the main PPV matches!
Two featurettes sees interviews with Neville and Kane.
Neville talks about the impact his made in the WWE and how he’s lived with other people’s doubts for years. He describes himself as “a small lad from a small town in England”, but he really does have the makings of a big star in the WWE.
Kane talks about the aftermath of the Fatal Fourway, explaining that he always does what’s best for business.
Though Neville is interesting to listen to, these are two throwaway interviews.
The DVD suffers from occasionally low bit rate that causes images to be grainy and, occasionally, blurry. It’s not a problem when the focus is on the matches, but wide shots, long shots and, occasionally, the commentator table look a bit grainy and subpar. On-screen graphics are occasionally affected, too.
Audio is well presented throughout, in surround sound, and with the volume turned up it’s an immersive experience. The sound of in ring action, crowd response and commentary is well balanced.
- You can buy this DVD (RRP: £12.99) or Blu Ray (RRP: £13.99) from July 13th 2015 from http://www.wwedvd.co.uk/