The John Report: WWE Payback 2023 Review

wwe payback review tjrwrestling 2023 final

It’s WWE Payback with Seth Rollins facing Shinsuke Nakamura for the World Heavyweight Title, John Cena as the host, and more.

The WWE Payback Premium Live Event is here with four title matches. There was no Kickoff Show match. They said that the Steel Cage Match between Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus was starting the show.

WWE Payback
From PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
September 2, 2023

The opening video package was really well done as usual with highlights of the competitors in matches at Payback. These videos are always well done.

It was a packed house in Pittsburgh with Michael Cole letting us know there were 14,584 fans in attendance. Cole was on commentary with Corey Graves, who is from Pittsburgh. As the steel cage lowered, it was time for a video package.

A video package aired about the Becky Lynch-Trish Stratus rivalry. It featured comments from both women talking about their legacies in WWE with Trish saying she wanted to prove she was still the best while Becky wants to show that she is better than Trish ever was. It’s been a long rivalry that has lasted over four months.

Becky Lynch was up first and she got a big ovation as usual. The WWE Hall of Famer Tish Stratus was up next. Both women had on some newer outfits and they both great as usual. Trish is my favorite women’s wrestler of all time, so I’m always happy to say thank you Trish whenever she’s in an outfit like that.

They showed NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton watching from the first row. Cole claimed that Stratton said there’s not enough competition in NXT, so she’s scouting opponents here as well.

Steel Cage Match: Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus

The way to win a WWE Steel Cage Match is by pinfall, submission, escape the cage or going out the door.

It was pointed out by Cole that Trish has never been in a cage match. Trish tried to get out of the cage, but Lynch stopped her and Lynch sent Trish into the turnbuckle a few times. Lynch hit three Bexploder Suplexes in a row. Trish got some offense with a hair pull takedown. Trish tried to climb out of the cage, but Lynch knocked her down. Trish came back by sending Lynch into the cage. Trish sent Lynch into the cage a few times. Lynch charged, but Trish caught her with a spinebuster for two. Lynch came back with a rollup for two. Stratus hit a clothesline on Lynch for two. Trish pulled back on Lynch’s face against the ropes. Lynch got some offense going by sending Trish into the cage a few times. Lynch picked up Trish to send Trish’s head/hands into the cage and Lynch hit a running forearm. Trish sent Lynch face first into the cage a few times. When Trish ducked a clothesline with a Matrix-like bend, Lynch came back with a leg drop to the body. Lynch sent Trish into the cage again. They took turns throwing eachother into the cage, but then Lynch really took over sending Trish’s head into the cage repeatedly. Trish was hanging up by the ropes, so Lynch hit a leg drop to the back for two. Trish had a purple welt/bruising on her forehead. Lynch tried a climb, but Trish grabbed the leg to stop that. They were fighting on the top turnbuckle. Trish tried to climb up, but Lynch caught her. Lynch gave Trish a Powerbomb out of the corner for a two count. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them.

Lynch went for a submission, but Trish countered it by shoving Lynch away and Trish hit the Widow’s Peak that her former rival Victoria used to use. That was awesome. Lynch came back with a Twist of Fate that Lita used in her career (and the Hardys used) for a two count. Lynch went up top, Lynch jumped off, Trish moved and Lynch was favoring her knee as she landed. Stratus hit a Stratusfaction bulldog off the middle ropes for two. There is Lynch kicking out of a finishing move. Trish tried to climb out of the cage again, but Lynch held the leg to stop her. Trish hit Lynch with a strike on the top rope and then Trish hit a bulldog off the top for two. They climbed to the top of the steel cage and they were sitting on the top of the cage. Trish sent Lynch back into the ring, but Lynch climbed back up and pulled Trish back up by the hair. Trish had her two legs caught in the top of the cage and was bent backward. Trish freed herself, then Lynch was standing on the top rope and Lynch gave Trish a superplex from the top of the cage! That was a great move that was executed perfectly. It was a big landing for both women. Lynch covered with just her left arm across the chest, but Trish got her right arm up. Lynch climbed to the top of the cage, then Trish crawled to the door and Lynch grabbed Trish to prevent her from leaving out the door. Zoey Stark showed up while Trish was near the door. Stark pulled on Trish’s arms, but Lynch kept Trish in the cage. Trish got a rollup on Lynch for two. Lynch hit a Manhandle Slam on Trish for a two count because Zoey Stark broke up the pin attempt. Lynch shut the door and stared at Stark. Stark hit a clothesline. Trish tried to climb out, Lynch got a hold of Stark and Lynch hit a Manhandle Slam on Stark. Trish tried climbing out of the cage again, but Lynch got a hold of her and Lynch gave Trish a Manhandle Slam off the top rope! What a great move. Lynch covered Trish for the pinfall win! This match went 20:02. Cole said it was a contender for Match of the Year.

Winner by pinfall: Becky Lynch

Analysis: ****1/4 That was a great, competitive match that was very even for most of the way. It really was an outstanding match that was one of the better women’s matches in WWE this year. They pulled out all the stops with a lot of nearfalls for Trish throughout the match before Lynch was able to put her away. There wasn’t a lot of cage climbing early, but then they did it toward the end of the match. I loved seeing Trish use the Widow’s Peak in the match. That was such a cool tribute to Victoria, who is her friend and one of her greatest rivals. I was not a fan of Zoey Stark getting involved in the match, but it does fit the story between these women, so at least Lynch was able to overcome it to get the win. I think that’s the right finish to this story. Lynch should have won to end the rivalry.

Becky Lynch celebrated the win while Stark was checking on Trish in the ring. After Lynch left, her music stopped.

Stark tried to explain to Trish what happened, so Trish slapped Stark in the face. Trish told Stark to get out of the cage, so Stark shut the cage door. Stark picked up Trish and hit her with a Z360 knee to knock Trish down. Stark threw her “Thank You Trish” shirt onto Trish and Stark left.

Analysis: A bad night for Trish Stratus since she lost the match along with the ending of this partnership with Stark. It was not bad from a performance standpoint. Trish was excellent. I thought the Trish/Zoey story would have lasted longer, but I guess not. Trish will probably be on her own now and maybe she’s going to take a break. I don’t know what her plans are. I just hope there’s more Trish in the future because she did awesome in this match.

There were videos about WWE live events and other commercials.

A video aired about Shinsuke Nakamura issuing his warnings to Seth Rollins.

Let’s Hear From Guest Host John Cena

John Cena made his entrance to a huge pop with the fans cheering and screaming for him. Mike Rome introduced Cena as the “greatest of all time.” Cena was in his new blue/orange shirt, hat, jorts and sneakers as usual.

Cena spoke about how great the first match. Cena said in 20+ years he’s been a lot of things in WWE, but he’s never been a host. Cena said his job as a host is to make tonight special. Cean said he thought he could be the special guest referee for the match between LA Knight and The Miz.

The Miz made his entrance looking angry about what Cena just said. The Miz said that they may call Cena the greatest of all time, but as a host he sucks. Cena said that Miz had a lot of experience as a host, so he asked for advice. The Miz told Cena not to make himself a special guest referee of Miz’s match. Cena asked for more advice. Miz told Cena to say “no” to being a Merman in a Barbie movie. Cena said he didn’t like Miz, but he did have a lot of respect for him. Cena wanted Miz to give him some advice. Miz told Cena to be more involved and Miz mentioned being in two matches at WrestleMania. They both sucked. Anyway, Miz said that he wore an expensive suit while Cena is nearly 50 years old and still dresses like a Teletubby. Miz told Cena to take charge and Cena said like making himself the special guest referee, but Miz shouted “no” to that. The fans chanted “yes” for it. The Miz told the crowd to shut up as usual. Cena was handed a referee shirt, so he said he is the special guest referee. Miz said “no” and Cena said “yeah” so here comes LA Knight for his match. Big pop for LA Knight as usual.

Analysis: That was some good promo work from two of the best talkers in WWE history. The Miz knows how to get heat and Cena knows how to pander to the crowd. That was well done by both guys.

The Miz vs. LA Knight

John Cena was the special guest referee wearing a referee shirt. The fans were chanting “LA Knight” to start the match.

The Miz tried to leave rather than have the match, but Knight stopped him with punches and they went back into the ring. They got into a slugfest, the fans chanted “YEAH” for Knight punches and they hit a back elbow. Knight with a suplex. Knight teased a superplex, but Miz hit a front suplex sending Knight crashing to the mat on his face. Miz hit a double axhandle off the top. The action spilled to the floor with Knight slamming Miz’s head off the commentary table several times. Knight went back into the ring to break Cena’s count, then Knight left the ring and Miz sent Knight face first into the side of the commentary table. Miz sent Knight into the barricade several times. Miz went into the ring, then back out and Knight gave Miz a back body drop on the floor. Knight hit a clothesline off the barricade onto Miz on the floor. Back in the ring, Miz worked over Knight with kicks. Cena made Miz go back, so Knight came back with a clothesline. Knight put his boot against Miz’s throat, so Cena pulled Knight back after a four count. Miz got back up with a forearm to knock down Knight. Miz tripped up Knight on the turnbuckle and Miz hit double knees to the chest for two. Knight sent Miz into the turnbuckle, Miz slid underneath Knight on the apron and Miz tripped up Knight on the apron.

The Miz worked over Knight with “It Kicks” to the body. Knight came back with a belly to back suplex that turned into a spinebuster by the end of it. Knight got some momentum with punches followed by a neckbreaker. Knight hit a bulldog off the middle rope along with a running kick for two. Knight with a running knee while Miz was against the turnbuckle. Miz came back with a kick to the knee leading to a DDT and another DDT by Miz got a two count. Knight countered a Miz move into a pin attempt for two. Miz went for a corner clothesline, Knight avoided it and Knight hit a twisting DDT for a two count. Miz hit a jawbreaker and Miz got a rollup using his hand on the rope, but Cena caught it, so Cena stopped counting. Cena admonished Miz for cheating. Knight and Miz exchanged some moves, they were able to counter each other and Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale for one…two…no. Knight got his right shoulder up. Miz taunted Cena by doing his hand gesture, but Knight popped back up and hit a powerslam. Knight hit the elbow drop off the ropes. Knight hit Blount Force Trauma aka BFT for the pinfall win at 15:45.

Winner by pinfall: LA Knight

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a pretty good match that got plenty of time. Knight winning decisively was the right finish. Having Knight kick out of the Skull Crushing Finale years ago might have been a big deal, but since Miz loses nearly every match this year it’s fine for Knight kick out of it. Cena did a nice job as the referee by being authoritative when needed and they involved him in the final few minutes as well. I’m glad Knight won here.

LA Knight and John Cena were by the entrance together. Cena extended his hand for a shake. Knight said Cena almost cost him the match. Cena said you still won clean. Knight shook Cena’s hand and Cena raised Knight’s hand. The fans loved that.

Analysis: It was a sign of respect as well as an endorsement from Cena for LA Knight. That’s big for Knight.

They showed some members of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers at ringside.

A video package aired about Rey Mysterio defending the US Title against the former champion Austin Theory.

United States Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Austin Theory

There were Cinnamon Toast Crunch logos all around the ringside area, so I guess that’s the sponsor. Theory took control by sending Rey throat first into the top rope followed by a Theory clothesline. Theory with a double stomp and a suplex for two. Theory hit another suplex. Rey countered Theory with a cradle while Theory came back with an elbow smash. Theory grabbed a headlock, Rey fought back and Theory choked Rey across the middle rope. Theory sent Rey sternum first into the top turnbuckle. Theory put Rey onto the top rope leading to Theory pulling on Rey’s mask, but Rey elbowed out of it. Rey hit a moonsault off the top onto a standing Theory. Rey with a headscissors sending Theory out of the ring. Rey hit a sliding attack under the bottom rope leading to a DDT on the floor. Rey jumped off the top with a seated senton on a standing Theory for a two count. Rey delivered a headscissors again, then he tripped Theory into the ropes and Rey wanted a 619 kick, but Theory avoided it. Theory caught Rey on his shoulders leading to Theory hitting a spinout Powerbomb for two. Theory hit a roll through dropkick, Rey bounced off the ropes and hit a basement dropkick. Both guys were down selling. They got back up to exchange strikes. Rey sent Theory into the ropes again leading to the 619 kick. Rey went for a splash, but Theory got the knees up. Theory went for A-Town Down, but Rey was on his shoulders and Rey rolled through with a cradle pin sitting on top of Theory for the pinfall win at 9:45.

Winner by pinfall: Rey Mysterio

Analysis: *** It was a solid match that the crowd really didn’t get into that much except for a few of Rey’s signature moves. That counter by Rey into the pinfall sitting on top of Theory was a creative move by Rey as usual. It wasn’t as impactful of an ending as it could have been if Rey won with a finisher. It felt like more of a TV match.

Becky Lynch was interviewed by Cathy Kelley about Becky finally being done with Trish Stratus. Before Lynch could say much, NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton arrived to say she apologized for saying Lynch was a former NXT Women’s Champion since Lynch never won the title before. Lynch had a Barbie reference for Stratton. Lynch told Stratton to focus on her title defense on Tuesday and Lynch said maybe she’ll see her soon.

Analysis: That sounds like the start of a new rivalry.

A video aired about the WWE Tag Team Title Steel City Street Fight.

Steel City Street Fight For the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The Judgment Day – Finn Balor & Damian Priest

It’s a Street Fight, so no rules in a match like this except you have to win by pinfall or submission in the ring. They don’t have to make tags.

Owens and Priest went brawling up the aisle while Zayn was fighting with Balor around ringside. Zayn sent Balor into the barricade. Zayn tossed some chairs into the ring. Balor nailed Zayn with a kendo stick to the head. Balor threw down a Terrible Towel and stomped on it, so the fans booed. Owens nailed Balor with a clothesline while they were on the floor. Priest got back into it with a forearm to KO’s back. Zayn ran the ropes leading to a somersault dive over the top onto Balor & Priest on the floor. Zayn & Owens smashed their opponents with trash cans. Owens took off his shirt to reveal he was wearing a Terry Funk tank top. Owens and Zayn took turns using kendo sticks to hit Balor with a trash can on his hand. The fans wanted a table, so Owens & Zayn set up a table beside the ring. Priest got some offense going with punches for both opponents along with a trash can smash. Balor hit Zayn with a chair to the ribs. Priest smashed a chair into KO’s ribs. Balor stomped on Zayn repeatedly. Owens got the advantage over Priest with stomps and a chair to the ribs. Balor hit Owens in the ribs with a chair. Zayn back in with a chair jab to Balor and two chair shots to the back. Balor and Priest went out into the crowd, so Owens & Zayn went after them. That led to Dominik Mysterio showing up to attack Owens & Zayn with punches. The Judgment Day threw Owens & Zayn over the hockey boards. They celebrated as if they won something, but Owens and Zayn had Pittsburgh Penguins hockey gear. Owens was bleeding by the head. Owens was wearing a Mario Lemieux jersey and Zayn was wearing a Sidney Crosby jersey. They had hockey sticks with them too. The fans loved it. Owens and Zayn dropped the gloves so that they could punch Dominik repeatedly, which led to Dominik going to the back. I don’t know when Owens got cut, but he was bleeding a lot.

They were back in the ring with Zayn stacking a pile of chairs in the ring. The medical team was checking on Owens with the bloody head. Owens tripped up Priest on the apron and threw Priest into the steel steps. Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Balor onto the pile of chairs for a two count. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for it. Priest was back in with a hockey stick that he used to attack his opponents. Priest picked up Zayn and slammed him back first onto four chairs that were opened up in the ring. Priest covered for two with Owens making the save. Balor hit a dropkick to Owens to knock him into the commentary table. Priest nailed Owens with a trash can to the head. Balor knocked Owens over the barricade. They went fighting into the crowd again with Priest & Balor going after Owens. They were by the hockey boards again. Zayn joined the fight by going after Priest. Zayn sent Balor off the desk used for the Kickoff Show. Zayn jumped off the desk with a somersault dive onto both opponents. Dominik was back with punches and kicks on Zayn. Owens sent Dominik into a steel grating by the crowd. Owens set up Dominik on a table. Owens climbed up the railing on the stairwell and Owens hit a Swanton Bomb onto Dominik through the table. The fans chanted “holy shit” for that. Great move by Owens there.

It was back to the ring with Zayn hitting an Exploder Suplex on Balor. Zayn charged at Balor, but Priest threw a trash can at Zayn, which led to Balor getting a two count. Priest held up Zayn, but Zayn broke free and knocked Balor down on the apron. Zayn with an Exploder to Priest into the turnbuckle. Zayn punched Balor off the apron and put Balor through the table at ringside. Zayn charged at Priest, but Priest caught him. Owens was back in the ring with a Stunner on Priest. Zayn hit a Helluva Kick on Priest, but JD McDonagh pulled Zayn off the pin. JD threw Zayn into the ring post. Owens decked JD with a clothesline on the floor. Owens gave JD a Powerbomb/Spinebuster onto the hood of the commentary table. The table didn’t break. That looked brutal. Rhea Ripley ran down to ringside and gave Owens a Spear through the barricade. Zayn crawled back into the ring leading to Balor hitting Slingblade and a dropkick into the corner. Balor went up top, Balor jumped off with a Coup de Grace but Zayn avoided it. Zayn with an Exploder Suplex into the corner. Zayn hit a Helluva Kick on Balor for the two count because Dominik hit Zayn with the Money in the Bank briefcase to the head! Balor rolled over to cover Zayn with his right arm across the chest for the pinfall win! New Champions. It went 20:45.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions: Finn Balor & Damian Priest

Analysis: **** I thought it was an excellent Steel City Street Fight. Yes, there was a lot of interference and perhaps too much of it, but that’s what happens when bad guys win sometimes. It was a cheap victory that Sami & Kevin have a right to complain about while The Judgment Day will celebrate it because they ended up with all the gold. I figured JD McDonagh would be involved. It was timed perfectly with Zayn nearly about to win the match when JD pulled him out at the right time. After Zayn hit another Helluva Kick, Dominik Mysterio was there with the briefcase to cost Zayn the win and Balor capitalized to win. I thought Priest did a nice job in the match as the power guy. Owens was terrific with some big moves including that Swanton Bomb through the table on Dominik. The addition of Rhea Ripley showing up to hit a Spear on Owens through the table was crazy too. That meant there were three outside people helping J-Day get the win here. I’m okay with the title change because KO & Sami had the titles for about five months, so I figured it was possible due to the stipulations of this match.

The Judgment Day’s Finn Balor & Damian Priest along with Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio celebrated with all their championships. That’s a lot of titles.

Analysis: The group gains even more gold along with Damian Priest’s Money in the Bank briefcase. It’s a clear sign that WWE really loves this group and will keep featuring them on Raw.

A video aired about Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month while mentioning WWE’s Connor’s Cure charity. They showed some families in the crowd. They were kids and their parents from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. It’s the city where Connor’s Cure was founded.

A commercial aired for the NXT PLE No Mercy on September 30th in four weeks.

There was a Cody Rhodes video profiling his WWE return in 2022 as well as his success in 2023.

Grayson Waller Effect with Cody Rhodes

The ring was set up for Grayson Waller’s talk show with the fake trees, the big desk and chairs. Waller insulted the city of Pittsburgh and then he brought out Cody Rhodes.

Cody Rhodes made his entrance to a big pop. Cody was in a suit as usual so it doesn’t look like he’ll be part of an impromptu match. The fans popped huge for the “WHOA-OH” part of the song as usual.

Cody was about to do his question bit, but Waller interrupted it saying that nobody cares what Pittsburgh wants to talk about. Waller said he wanted to hear about Cody’s big announcement. Waller spoke about Cody having so many ups and so many downs this year. Waller thinks tonight can be the beginning of something huge for Cody. When Cody got a chance to speak, he referenced past talk shows in WWE. Cody wondered if they will get in a fight and Cody will drop him with a Cross Rhodes. Waller said that he isn’t going to fight in front of these beautiful trees.

Cody said he asked to be on the show while thanking Waller for the rub. Cody said he wanted to give Waller a big scoop. Cody asked Waller if he watched Raw, NXT and Smackdown. Cody spoke about how Smackdown is intriguing. Cody said that he saw a wrong that needed to be right. Cody said he cashed in his chips and he hopes this is not a mistake, but he welcomed us to the newest member of the Monday Night Raw roster…it’s Jey Uso!

The fans popped for Jey Uso making his entrance. Jey has a new theme song just like his brother Jimmy got on Smackdown. Jey nodded at Cody and pointed at him as a sign of respect.

Grayson Waller said that Jey was gone for like two weeks, so he told Jey to settle down. Waller asked how Jey felt about being the newest member of the Raw roster. Waller didn’t let Jey speak. Waller said that as an individual, Jey has achieved absolutely nothing. Waller said if anybody needs the Grayson Waller rub, it is…and Jey superkicked Waller to knock him down on his ass. Cody was watching from the entrance area while Jey celebrated and the fans loved it.

Analysis: That’s an interesting development with Jey Uso being moved to Raw to keep him away from The Bloodline on Smackdown. This will be a way for WWE to keep him apart from brother Jimmy Uso, so if WWE wants them in a match at WrestleMania then it can be done because they’ll be apart for the rest of the year in theory. Cody did a nice job of putting Jey over while having a good line about it possibly being a mistake since Cody had issues with The Bloodline in the past. Jey being on Raw with Sami Zayn will be interesting too because of their history. I like it. Jey should do well on Raw as the brand adds another main event level performer.

There was a video package for the Rhea Ripley-Raquel Rodriguez match for the Women’s World Title.

Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez

Rhea Ripley did not have “Dirty” Dom with her for her entrance. Samantha Irvin did the championship introductions when both women were in the ring.

They ran into eachother with shoulder tackles that had no effect to show how strong they are. Raquel got some momentum with a running shoulder tackle to knock Ripley down. Ripley with a necksnap across the top rope. Ripley kicked Raquel in the ribs. Ripley hit three clotheslines to no effect, but Raquel came back with a lefty clothesline and body slam. Ripley did a legsweep and trip. Ripley hit a running dropkick along with punches to the face. Ripley was in control with a forearm to the back. Ripley jumped on Raquel’s back three times. Ripley with a snapmare along with a kick to the spine. Raquel tossed Ripley across the ring to get out of a front facelock. Ripley kicked the rope while Raquel was near it. Ripley hit a dropkick followed along with hammer fists to the body. Raquel made a comeback with several clotheslines along with a fallaway slam across the ring. Raquel hit a corner splash against the turnbuckle. Ripley tripped up Raquel on the middle rope to knock her down. Ripley headbutted Raquel a few times, but Raquel came back with kicks to the legs. Raquel hit a vertical suplex for a two count. Raquel hit a corkscrew elbow off the middle rope for two. Ripley avoided a move, Ripley with a headbutt and Ripley lifted up Raquel leading to a hard slam into the mat. Ripley hit a running knee leading to a cocky pin attempt for two. Raquel countered a Riptide event and Raquel went for a Powerbomb to send Ripley into the ropes, but they didn’t do it right. Raquel followed up with a lefty clothesline for two.

They battled by the turnbuckle again, Ripley broke free and Ripley hit chop block to the back of the left knee. Ripley applied the Prism Lock submission hooking up the legs, but Raquel got out of it and got a two count. Raquel hit a powerslam for a two count. They slapped eachother followed by an exchange of punches. Raquel kicked Ripley out of the ring. Ripley tripped up Raquel on the apron. They were out on the floor where Raquel kicked Ripley down. Raquel picked up Ripley in a Powerbomb position sending Ripley back-first into the turnbuckle and into the barricade. Raquel broke the referee’s count. Raquel sent Ripley shoulder-first into the ring post. Dominik Mysterio went to ringside, Ripley held onto him and Raquel pulled them both into the ring. Raquel gave Dominik a running powerslam. Ripely kicked the left knee and a kick to the head. Ripley hit a Riptide slam for the pinfall win at 17:20.

Winner by pinfall: Rhea Ripley

Analysis: ***1/4 They worked hard and tried to have a great match that was given a lot of time, but the fans never got into it that much. It’s still a good match. Ripley has a lot of star power and they react to her, but as the heel, she shouldn’t be cheered much. I don’t think this crowd cared that much about Raquel as a babyface challenger. Every time Raquel made her comeback, the fans really didn’t get behind her. It’s a bit of an issue with Raquel because she doesn’t have a strong personality although I think as a performer she has improved a lot in the last few years. Anyway, I don’t see Ripley losing this title until she gets the Becky Lynch feud. That might be at WrestleMania, so it should be a lengthy title reign for Ripley.

John Cena was backstage as an interviewer wearing a jacket and a pink bowtie. Cena kneeled down to look shorter. Finn Balor & Damian Priest talked about winning the WWE Tag Team Titles. They didn’t say much about other than The Judgment Day is on top and they wanted to go celebrate.

Analysis: They could have done more for John Cena on this show, but there’s no harm in using him in an interviewer role for something brief like that.

The next WWE Premium Live Event is Fastlane on Saturday, October 7th in Indianapolis.

A commercial aired for Kurt Angle’s new documentary Angle. It’s available on Peacock now.

This Monday on Raw: GUNTHER defends the Intercontinental Title against Chad Gable.

A video package aired about the Seth Rollins-Shinsuke Nakamura match for the World Heavyweight Title. That’s the main event.

Seth “Freakin” Rollins made his entrance for the main event wearing the World Heavyweight Championship. The fans were loudly singing Seth’s song as usual. Rollins was in some black & gold gear with a bright gold jackets. A lot of fans had their phones out while Rollins posed in the ring, so it was like they were the fireflies for Bray Wyatt. That’s cool to see.

Shinsuke Nakamura spoke in Japanese while comic book graphics were shown on the screen. Nakamura talked about targeting Seth’s back while saying that this is the beginning of the end for Seth Rollins. Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance after that. The WWE Hall of Famer The Great Muta was shown at ringside to watch the match. Samantha Irvin did the championship introductions. The announcers put over how dangerous this version of Nakamura is and how it’s Nakamura’s first WWE PLE main event. Rollins had some Bray Wyatt prints on his pants to pay tribute to his late friend.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

There was a feeling out process in the opening moments. Rollins tripped up Nakamura leading to a chinlock. When Nakamura broke free, he did the “come on” gesture. Nakamura delivered a kick to the lower back. Rollins came back with punches and kicks to the body. Rollins hit a running forearm. Nakamura rolled out of the ring, so Rollins hit him with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Rollins hit a back body drop getting out of a move. Nakamura delivered a kick to the back along with a forearm to the back. Nakamura set up Rollins on the top turnbuckle, but Rollins avoided the running knee. Rollins sent Nakamura into the top rope followed by Rollins hitting a senton bomb. Rollins went for a moonsault, Nakamura rolled to the floor and Rollins hit a suicide dive onto Nakamura on the floor. They were fighting by the commentary table, Rollins wanted a dive and Nakamura slammed Rollins off the barricade onto the table. Nakamura sent Rollins back-first into the barricade. Back in the ring, Nakamura hit the running knee to the ribs and a running knee to the lower back for two. Nakamura applied a chinlock while sitting on the lower back. Rollins with a backbreaker onto the knee. Rollins hit a running knee lift and a knee to the back. Nakamura went for a kick, Rollins caught it and Nakamura hit a spin kick to the head. Nakamura went for a half crab submission, but Rollins twisted his way out of it. Nakamura was seated on the turnbuckle and Rollins met him with chops. Rollins hit a hurricanrana while Nakamura was on the middle rope.

They got into a slugfest. Rollins hit a clothesline, kicks to the body and a Slingblade neckbreaker. Rollins went up top and hit a Frog Splash for two. Rollins went for a lift, Nakamura slipped out of it and Rollins hit a clothesline for two. Rollins shouted that he knows his back hurts, but he didn’t like that Nakamura makes Seth’s wife (Becky Lynch) worry. Rollins went for The Stomp, but Nakamura avoided it and Nakamura got a knee to the face. Nakamura hit a knee strike off the middle rope for two. Nakamura with a body slam followed by a suplex. Nakamura trapped Rollins by the turnbuckle leading to a kick to the back followed by a German Suplex for two. Nakamura hit an Inverted Exploder Suplex. Nakamura charged, but Rollins hit a superkick for two. Rollins delivered two forearms to the jaw. Nakamura caught Rollins with an armbar on the right arm. Nakamura managed to turn it into a Triangle Choke submission on the mat. Rollins powered out of it into a sitout Powerbomb for two. They exchanged forearms to the head. Rollins hit a spinning forearm, but Nakamura came back with a spinning kick to the head. Rollins hit a jumping enziguri kick to the head and both guys were down. It was about 20 minutes into this match.

Rollins did a slow climb to the top rope, but Nakamura was there to trip him up on the turnbuckle. Nakamura gave Rollins a flipping slam off the turnbuckle called a Landslide for two. Nakamura hit a running knee to the back of Seth’s head. Nakamura wanted Rollins to get back up, but Rollins collapsed to the mat. Rollins with a palm strike to the face. Nakamura delivered knee strikes to the body. Rollins landed on his feet after a suplex attempt and Rollins hit a Pedigree. Rollins was too slow to make a cover because Rollins was selling a back injury. Nakamura was back up with a jumping kick to the head. Nakamura went for a cover, Rollins slipped out of it and Rollins hit The Stomp for one…two…and three! Rollins gets the win at 26:05. Rollins covered Nakamura with his two arms across the chest.

Winner by pinfall: Seth “Freakin” Rollins

Analysis: ***3/4 The match was pretty good for a main event, but I wouldn’t call it an epic match or anything like that. It was a long match that probably dragged on a bit too much because I don’t think they needed 25 minutes for a match like this. The story was about Nakamura attacking the back throughout the match, Rollins fighting back from it and eventually Rollins find a way to get the win. I don’t think many people thought that Nakamura was going to win, so that hurt the match a bit in terms of trying to provide some doubt about who might get the victory. I liked it overall.

Seth Rollins celebrated with the World Heavyweight Title. Shinsuke Nakamura was out on the floor looking frustrated about the loss. Rollins celebrated with the title in the ring. That was it.

A video package aired recapping the show.

This event had a runtime of about 3:25:02 on WWE Network.

UPDATE: After the show, Nakamura attacked Rollins again so it looks like the feud will continue. WWE posted footage on their YouTube channel, which will probably be shown on Raw too.


Five Stars of the Show

1. Becky Lynch

2. Damian Priest & Finn Balor

3. Trish Stratus

4. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

5. Seth “Freakin” Rollins


Final Thoughts

I’m going with a 7.5 out of 10 for this show.

It was a pretty good show overall with the two best matches being the Becky Lynch-Trish Stratus Steel Cage Match that opened the event and the Steel City Street Fight that saw The Judgment Day beat Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens to win the WWE Tag Team Titles. Becky and Trish really did an outstanding job in that match with Lynch getting the big win. Judgment Day’s Priest & Balor got a very cheap win over Zayn & Owens, but it was within the rules, so three people helping them counts and it gives Zayn/Owens an out for the loss.

Other matches were okay. Everything on the show got at least 15 minutes except Rey Mysterio beating Austin Theory in about 10 minutes. Some of the matches went too long because the Pittsburgh crowd wasn’t that loud for a few matches. No surprise seeing Seth Rollins, Rhea Ripley and LA Knight getting wins. Those were obvious winners.

The re-introduction of Jey Uso on Raw should be interesting. It keeps him apart from brother Jimmy so WWE can save that match for WrestleMania in seven months. John Cena did fine with his promo and did a solid job as the referee of Knight-Miz while also putting Knight over big after the win.

Compared to other WWE 2023 PLEs/PPVs, this was at the bottom, but it’s certainly not a bad show because I went 7.5 out of 10 for it. It’s just that this is arguably the best year of WWE PPVs/PLEs ever, so it’s tough to rate it ahead of the other shows in 2023.

My WWE PLE/PPV rankings for 2023 look like this.

WrestleMania 39 – 8.75 (out of 10)

Elimination Chamber – 8.25

Backlash – 8

SummerSlam – 8

Money in the Bank – 8

Night of Champions – 7.75

Royal Rumble – 7.5

Payback – 7.5


As a reminder, I have a listing of every WWE PPV that I reviewed in order by year. Thank you for supporting us at TJRWrestling. We appreciate you.

Thanks for reading this review. My contact info is below.


Twitter/X: @johnreport