April 29, 2016 by Joey Keogh
The Payback poster is so rad it almost makes me forget that none of those featured on it are actually taking part in the damn PPV. A strange event all round, one couldn’t reasonably argue that what happens at Payback matters in the grand scheme of things (what happened last year? Anyone?), but even so we can still hope for some fun, or maybe even a few surprises if we’re lucky. Let’s take a look at what’s to come on the first post-Wrestlemania PPV of the year:
United States Championship Match: Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback
Matches with Ryback make me sad. Why is this talentless lunk still a thing? And why is he being paired up with someone he could easily kill? It’d be great if we were made to care about the US title again, like when Cena had his amazing open challenge for it and the belt actually seemed to matter for a few weeks there. Alas, this is a different time and we’re now probably going to see Kalisto, a gifted wrestler, lose to Ryback, a giant walking slab of steak with a personality to match.
Predicted winner: Ryback
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
Remember when everybody loved Ziggler and was hoping he’d get a massive push? Doesn’t that feel like a million years ago? These days, his entrance elicits groans instead of cheers. Ziggler just isn’t exciting anymore, and his weird ring gear makes him look like a roadie for Ratt (or is it Quiet Riot?). In that sense, at least he’s well-matched with Corbin, the least convincing biker since, well, The Undertaker. Maybe the overwhelmingly eighties throwback will cause these two to implode?
Predicted winner: Nikki Sixx
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz (c) (with Maryse) vs. Cesaro
Cesaro‘s new gimmick is genius, from the James Bond spotlight to his immaculate styling (that tearaway suit!), and he should, hopefully, nab the IC title from Miz at Payback. He’s been a Main Event contender for ages so, with any luck, this is the start of something major for the Swiss Superman and he’ll soon be in the world heavyweight championship title race. Just as long as he doesn’t get injured again, of course. As for The Miz, he can stick to appearing on Total Divas with Maryse.
Predicted winner: Cesaro
Tag team match to determine the #1 contender for the WWE Tag Team Championship: Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains
It’s incredible to have so many talented NXT recruits tearing up the main roster, and these two tag teams are perfectly positioned to challenge fan favourites The New Day for the belts. Enzo and Cass could be the perfect complementary comedic foil, while The Vaudevillains are so serious as to make the current champs even more hilarious. Either way, this match should be killer, it should shake up the tag division and it should prove once and for all that we don’t need no Usos to make things crazy. Whoever wins, we win.
Predicted winners: Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady
WWE Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) (with Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (with Bret Hart)
Nattie has really grown on me following her off-the-cuff comment about relaxing while listening to country music on Total Divas. Also, she’s a bloody good wrestler. Although I’d much rather see one of the newbies – Sasha, Becky, Bayley – challenge Charlotte for the title, at least she’s well-matched here with wrestling royalty, and a Hart Dungeon alumnus to boot. Considering this is the only women’s match on the card, the ladies better get enough time to show off what they can do. Particularly considering Ryback should get plenty to injure poor Kalisto.
Predicted winner: Natalya
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
As much as this match-up kind of makes no sense (a feud over a potted plant? Really?), I like these guys together and, if nothing else, it’s great to see Ambrose get a major PPV moment opposite a veteran. Jericho, to his credit, has been killing it lately with his horrible heel persona (that “stupid idiot” line is never not funny) and, considering he’s a master at putting people over, he should make his opponent look insanely good here. This match isn’t for anything, so it should be good fun or it’ll be a waste.
Predicted winner: Dean Ambrose
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
The best feud in pro-wrestling right now bar none. If Owens and Zayn continue to fight forever, I won’t care. In fact, I’ll celebrate it. These two are top-tier and I look forward to the day when they’re headlining and showing everyone how it’s really done. As it stands, Payback should be another solid match for them, and one that may even reasonably outdo the Reigns/Styles bout should nothing particularly interesting happen there (when Reigns is involved, it’s always a risk).
Predicted winner: All of us
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles
How sad that the only reason anyone is excited for this match is because Finn Bálor might show up, reform The Bullet Club and destroy Styles. While that sounds amazing, it’s still little more than a pipe dream at this stage, especially as he’s set to take on Joe at the next Takeover event. WWE might wait until the following night’s RAW to debut Bálor, having he, Anderson and Gallows humiliate their buddy Styles by wrecking his post-victory buzz. That’s right, I want AJ Styles to win this. Reigns has already held the title for too bloody long and I can’t take another speech about ‘I’m not a man, I’m a horse’ or whatever the fuck he’s half-assedly telling us this week. Enough. Let’s shake things up. Get Bálor out here to cause some mischief or put the damn belt on Styles and let the grown-ups play for a bit.
Predicted winner: AJ Styles (if only)
Catch Payback LIVE on the WWE Network Sunday, May 1st at 8E/5P