The WWE Payback 2023 PLE is in the books, and I think, by and large, it overdelivered in every way.
I came into the show about split on my excitement levels but it was definitely an entertaining show. Check out the John Canton review of the show right here on TJRWrestling in case you missed it.
#7: BECKY LYNCH DEFEATED TRISH STRATUS
MAJOR props to these ladies for what they did Saturday night. There were a lot of people upset that this match didn’t happen at Summerslam and even more people upset that it didn’t happen the following week on Raw. I think the payoff here was worth it because I don’t think they would’ve had equal amount of time to shine if it was on Summerslam. They got the opening spot here and killed it.
Trish Stratus does NOT need to be doing this. To be out there, basically retired for 17 years outside of a few one offs and compete in a steel cage match against the best of this generation in Becky Lynch is truly remarkable. She took bumps I didn’t think she would take and put it all on the line to prove she could hang with Becky. Both ladies deserve their flowers for the show they put on. It is legitmately on my list for Match of the year contender. It’s number one for me among the women. Kudos to them.
#6: LA KNIGHT DEFEATS THE MIZ
John Cena came out for a promo which led to him inserting himself as the special referee for The Miz and LA Knight. Knight is so over it is insane. It is amazing to see how far he has come in crowd reaction in just 8 months. The match was what it was. It was the standard LA Knight and Miz match. A couple of teases by John Cena before LA Knight hit the BFT for the victory. Afterwards, they teased a confrontation between Cena and Knight on the ramp but they shook hands as a sign of respect and an endorsement from Cena. I expect more interactions between the two and maybe even a tag match before Cena’s obligations are done.
#5: REY MYSTERIO RETAINS THE UNITED STATES TITLE
This match was kind of just there. I like Austin Theory but I think it’s time for a babyface turn. His personality just doesn’t scream heel to me. I think Mysterio eventually drops the title to Santos Escobar. I’m hoping it is as a babyface sign of respect match but you know WWE. They love their dastardly heel turns.
#4: JEY USO IS NOW ON RAW
Cody Rhodes was on the Grayson Waller effect and had some big announcements. Apparently he used all of his political pull he had to get Jey Uso, who quit Smackdown a few weeks ago, to be signed to Raw. Jey Uso came out to a remixed version of his theme and a standing ovation. It’s clear he is very over. WWE is very steady on the babyface side with Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Jey Uso, Cody Rhodes, LA Knight all insanely over. Jey being on Raw is likely how they keep this Uso feud fresg until WrestleMania. If you remember last year, Rey Mysterio was moved to Smackdown after months of dodging the prospect of fighting Dominik Mysterio. It was just a way to keep them apart until the eventual clash at WrestleMania because they knew they couldn’t just have Rey dodge his son every week for another four or five months. Well, they can’t realistically have Jimmy and Jey on the same show every week for another seven months and justify not having them go at it. So, this is a way to let them both shine on their own. That way, when the time comes for that clash, they’ll both be established as singles guys instead of just two tag guys who broke up and want to fight. I think it’s a smart move and I’m interested in how Jey does as a solo act without The Bloodline.
#3: RHEA RIPLEY RETAINS THE WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE
Rhea Ripley had a hard hitting match with Raquel Rodriguez. Rhea hadn’t had many decent title defenses since she won the title so it was good to see this one get time. They have chemistry going back to their days in NXT so I had high hopes for this one. Rhea is the top heel in the entire company when it comes to the women so I’m not mad she got the win here. Hopefully they build up some more challengers until Liv Morgan returns or they decide to go with Becky Lynch.
#2: THE JUDGMENT DAY WIN THE WWE TAG TEAM TITLES
I’m not sure I agree with this decision. Owens and Zayn have done a great job as Champions and I felt they had a lot more they could do with those titles. I understand giving those titles to the Judgment Day as they’re the top heel faction on Raw. I’m just over the whole “Let’s give a heel faction all the titles” angle. We just saw it with The Bloodline. The match was great, as you’d expect considering the four individuals involved. There will be continued teases of a Judgment Day split but I’m at least intrigued. Put Jey Uso with Sami and KO to even the odds with Judgment Day. I hope this isn’t the end of KO and Sami as a team as they are my pick for tag team of the year as we sit here today.
#1: SETH ROLLINS RETAINS THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
I thought this match was great. It went 26 minutes. I probably would’ve cut 5-8 minutes off but that’s just me. I liked the added intrigue of The Great Muta being at ringside. It at least put doubt into whether Seth was going to retain. They did a good job of having Shinsuke focus on the back of Rollins and Seth did a good job of being the fighting babyface that wouldn’t quit. The crowd was surprisingly split between Seth and Shinsuke. I’m not sure if that is just the overall admiration fans have for Shinsuke or a sign that the current direction of Seth Rollins maybe running its course. I loved the backstory on his back but I would like to see more overall character development other than just “Guy who wears ridiculous clothes and laughs like the joker”. I was glad to see these two get the main event spot. It was well deserved and the match delivered.
That’s it for Payback. It definitely exceeded my expectations. If you go out of your way to see anything on this show, make sure you check out the Women’s Steel cage, the WWE Tag Titles and World Heavyweight Title matches. Those three matches alone made the rest of the show worth it.
Thanks for reading. Check out my TJRWrestling writing archive here. I’m on Twitter/X @GiftedMoney talking about wrestling among other things, so feel free to message me on there with any thoughts or comments. Until next time.