This review of WWE Payback was written the day after the show. I have left the comments the same from the original review. That’s even the original banner at the top of the review.
June 16, 2013 (Twitter @johnreport)
I did not see Payback live. I had a prior commitment. I ordered the replay, so I missed the pre-show aka the Payback Kickoff show. I avoided social media and went into the show without knowing anything. The Kickoff match was a Sheamus victory over Damien Sandow.
The pay-per-view portion of the broadcast began with an awesome video package. All WWE video packages are awesome, though.
The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield. The Spanish announcers are there, of course. The set is lacking a ramp by the entrance. That makes sense considering the “possibility” of an Ambulance Match later. They went straight to the first match.
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman)
As is the case with most WWE triple threat matches, first pinfall or submission wins the match. The announcers quickly put over that this was Father’s Day, so Axel was thinking about his late father Mr. Perfect, who is one of the best Intercontinental champs ever. Barrett hit a pumphandle slam on Axel for two. Barrett got a two count on Miz after a big boot to the face. Heyman was instructing Axel outside the ring. Miz and Barrett worked for a couple of minutes while Axel waited to get involved. Clothesline by Barrett on Miz. Axel knocked Barrett to the floor with a forearm shot. “Perfect dropkick” is what Cole called it. Good way of putting it. Axel hit the running snapmare similar to what his father used to do. JBL was saying that the fans were chanting “CM Punk” for the last two hours. Axel worked over Miz for a few minutes while Barrett was outside the ring. Belly to back suplex by Axel got a two count as Barrett made the save to keep his title. Miz hit clotheslines on both guys and he threw Axel shoulder first into Barrett while he was in the corner. Miz was on fire as he got a two count on Axel. Barrett hit the Winds of Change slam for two. Axel countered Wasteland and he hit the Perfectplex on Barrett for two because Miz broke it up. The crowd cheered that move. Thank you, Chicago. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Axel. Barrett threw Miz out of the ring. Miz pulled Barrett off of Axel. Miz threw Barrett into the side of the ring and slid back in to get a two count of his own. Very good action at this point in the match. Miz gave Axel a back body drop over the top to the floor. Then Miz applied the Figure Four Leg Lock on Barrett in the middle of the ring. Axel rolled back into the ring, he covered the shoulders of Barrett and the ref counted three as Axel won the match in 11 minutes.
Winner: Curtis Axel – New Intercontinental Champion
After the match, when Axel was given the IC Title the crowd cheered. It doesn’t mean he’s a babyface. It’s a respect thing for his father Mr. Perfect. Axel looked up while holding the title. It was a fitting tribute to his dad, who is one of my favorite wrestlers ever.
Analysis: *** That was a fun match. I thought the last three or four minutes were masterfully done. The timing of the spots were perfect. You could hear the crowd get into the match for every nearfall. The best way I can describe the finish is that Miz was so focused on applying the move that he didn’t realize what Axel was doing. In the preview, I made a point to say that Axel should pin Barrett because that way he can have a feud with The Miz over the IC Title since Miz can say he didn’t get pinned. Barrett’s IC title reign was awful. He lost so many non-title matches in the last couple of months. Still, the Axel win ended up as a big moment. It’s interesting to note that if Fandango didn’t suffer a concussion last week it likely would have been Fandango that won the IC Title.
There was a video package about Mark Henry returning on Raw. He’s been out for about a month. On Twitter he was teasing retirement. That could be a work. I’m not sure.
Backstage, Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel were pleased about the IC Title win. Triple H stood in front of Axel. Vince McMahon also showed up. Axel and Heyman quickly left. Vince wanted to do Triple H vs. Curtis Axel on Raw. Hunter said no and that he’s not feeling it one bit. Of course he wanted it in the past month, but not now.
Prior to the Divas Title match, they showed what happened on Raw when AJ Lee and Big E Langston tricked Kaitlyn about her secret admirer. It ended in humiliation for Kaitlyn.
Divas Championship: Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee (w/Big E Langston)
I like Kaitlyn, but her music is pretty awful. Nice “Don’t Hinder Jinder” sign in the crowd. Lee blew Kaitlyn a kiss early on, which led to Kaitlyn attacking her and throwing her outside the ring. While outside the ring, Kaitlyn threw her onto the Spanish announce table. Lee took control after a kick to the face. The announcers were talking about how hard it was to understand women as Lawler said he’s been married three times and didn’t have any anniversaries. That was pretty funny. Might have been true too! Lee hit a couple of neckbreakers. AJ slapped on a sleeper that her boyfriend Dolph Ziggler uses. Kaitlyn was able to create some space after hitting a dropkick. Nice shoulder tackle spot by Kaitlyn earned her a two count. Kaitlyn hit a gutbuster. She couldn’t go for the pin because AJ grabbed the ropes. Kaitlyn actually took AJ’s belt off. The crowd cheered that because they’re a bunch of pervs or maybe they have a healthy mind. The ref attended to the ring apron that was adjusted by AJ and that led to AJ hitting Kaitlyn in the face with her studded belt. She covered for a two count. AJ screamed in frustration. Some guys would cheer for that. Kaitlyn wanted a power move, but AJ countered with the Black Widow submission hold in the center of the ring. Kaitlyn came back with a backbreaker. Spear by Kaitlyn earned her a two count. If she covered she would have won the match, but instead she blew AJ a kiss. She slammed AJ’s head to the mat and that delay allowed AJ to kick out at two. Kaitlyn missed a corner charge as her head hit the middle turnbuckle. Black Widow submission by AJ once again. It’s a move where she wraps her leg around the head of Kaitlyn and she pulls on her arm. Kaitlyn tapped out after ten minutes. AJ Lee is the new Divas champion.
Winner: AJ Lee – New Divas Champion
Analysis: **1/2 That was an entertaining divas match that got more time than I expected it to get. They did a really good job of putting over the idea that Kaitlyn had the match won if not for blowing the kiss after the Spear. She blew her opportunity. AJ Lee capitalized on the opportunity and she left as the Divas Champion. It was a simple story told within the match that made it work. It would be nice if we could get divas matches that go longer than three minutes on television because then the fans might care about the women’s matches more. I actually got this prediction wrong because I thought maybe Kaitlyn would get the win here while AJ would get it in the near future. Instead, WWE decided to do the title change here. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think AJ Lee will make a good Divas Champion who has more character depth than any woman on the roster. I’m shocked it took them this long to put the Divas Title on her, quite frankly.
Post match, Kaitlyn was in tears about losing her Divas Title. The crowd chanted “you tapped out” at her as she slowly walked out of the ring. She broke down in the aisle. Did I mention her cleavage looked great the entire match? She’s a pretty woman. That’s for damn sure. Layla came out to help her to the back.
After they showed replays of the match, Layla was with Kaitlyn trying to cheer her up in the backstage area. My favorite diva Natalya was there with Alicia Fox, who is apparently a babyface. I don’t even know. They tried to console Kaitlyn, but Kaitlyn left instead.
Analysis: I actually like the character development of Kaitlyn. Character development for divas? It’s so nice to see something like that. I think she still needs a last name (please don’t name her Kaitlyn Kaitlyn), but I’m interested to see where things are going next for her.
There was a commercial for Money in the Bank that airs on July 14 in Philadelphia. That’s always one of my favorite PPVs.
The Payback panel of Josh Mathews, Big Show (with beard), R-Truth and Cody Rhodes talked about the two title changes we already saw.
The video package for The Wyatt Family aired again. We don’t have a definite date on their debut on Raw or Smackdown, but I would guess that it will be before Money in the Bank.
United States Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Kane
Ambrose got a babyface pop. Smart fans. They know. There was even a “let’s go Ambrose” chant early on. Kane was in control in the early going with a lot of power moves including a hard whip into the turnbuckle that knocked Ambrose down. Ambrose regained control with a dropkick to Kane’s knee. Leg whip takedown by Ambrose. Why can’t Miz attack somebody’s knee in his matches since he uses the Figure Four Leg Lock? It’s a simple concept, really. Kane came back with a powerslam. Good “signs are stupid” sign in the crowd. Ambrose hit a flying elbow off the middle rope for two. Kane came back with an uppercut as both guys were down. Kane hit a boot to the face followed by a seated dropkick for two. Ambrose hit a running dropkick on Kane while he was tied up in the ropes. I noticed a guy in a “I’m a Chris Benoit Guy” shirt in the crowd. I’m sure he thought that was clever. Ambrose was trying to do the Old School Undertaker clothesline, but Kane powered out of that with his clotheslines followed by a sidewalk slam for two. Lawler compared Ambrose to Heath Ledger’s Joker character from The Dark Knight. That’s fair. Kane knocked Ambrose outside the ring. Ambrose slapped him, so Kane destroyed him with an uppercut. Kane cleared the covers off the Spanish table. Ambrose kicked him in the gut and hit a DDT on the floor outside the ring. The ref counted Kane out.
Winner: Dean Ambrose via countout
Analysis: ** It was just an average match. There wasn’t much of a story going in, so the crowd wasn’t emotionally invested in what they were doing in the ring. I wrote in the preview that I didn’t expect Ambrose to win clean. That’s what happened. I didn’t think they would do a countout win, but it makes sense since Kane is always booked so strongly. He’s not a guy that loses via pinfall that often. I’m hoping that this feud doesn’t continue that much longer because the chemistry was lacking a bit. I do like the idea of Ambrose as a guy that outsmarts his opponents to find creative ways to keep his title.
There was a video package for Rob Van Dam that let us know he would return to WWE in July at the Money in the Bank PPV. The crowd was chanting “RVD” as the video ended.
Analysis: It’s been about six years since he was a full-timer in WWE. In case you don’t know, he was in TNA from 2010 until earlier this year. He did make a surprise appearance in the 2009 Royal Rumble, but that was it. I’ve always been a fan of his, but you could tell he didn’t like things in TNA because he was mailing in his performances once in a while. Either he was unhappy or age is catching up to him. He’ll be 43 later this year. I think it’s a great idea to bring him back at Money in the Bank in a city like Philadelphia that was huge for him dating back to his run in the original ECW. I think there are a lot of fresh matchups for him in WWE and since he’s a guy the fans have always liked he’ll return to the company as a hot act. He can put in another two or three years of work and then go into the WWE Hall of Fame one day. On Monday morning, Dave Meltzer reported that it was a limited schedule. That’s fine with me.
There were some clips of Sheamus’ win over Sandow in the Payback Kickoff Match.
World Heavyweight Championship: Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E Langston & AJ Lee) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez)
The crowd chanted “Let’s Go Ziggler” at the start of the match. As they worked a slow pace early on, the crowd entertained themselves by chanting “RVD.” Odd timing. Del Rio gave Ziggler a back body drop where the focus was on Ziggler landing on his head. It was a reminder that he had a concussion. Ziggler hit a dropkick. Del Rio came back with a back body drop over the top to the floor that Ziggler sold by grabbing his head. Del Rio slammed Ziggler’s head into the announce table. Del Rio shoved Langston, so Langston shoved back. The ref noticed it and he sent Langston to the back. Del Rio had this sly smile on his face. As Ziggler tried to get back into the ring, Del Rio kicked him in the head. He even used headbutts. The crowd cheered when Ziggler applied a sleeper hold. Del Rio broke free by driving Ziggler’s head into the middle turnbuckle. Backstabber by Del Rio got him a two count. Del Rio came back with a neckbreaker for two. Ziggler hit a Fameasser that got him a two count. He didn’t hit it perfectly, which JBL pointed out. Del Rio hit a reverse suplex off the top rope for a two count. That’s a spot you don’t see very often. The idea of the match is that Del Rio keeps attacking the head of Ziggler. With Ziggler on the floor, Del Rio hit a hard kick to the face while he was on the apron. The doctor at ringside tended to Ziggler. Ziggler told the doctor he was okay, so Del Rio hit a dropkick to the back of the head. That was a very cheap shot as Lawler pointed out and I agree with. Enziguiri by Del Rio (a kick to the head) got another two count. Ziggler kicked Del Rio in the knee and then hit the Zig Zag. He couldn’t cover after hitting his finishing move. Del Rio slowly recovered and he hit a standing side kick to the head of Ziggler. He covered. Ziggler didn’t kick out. The match went 14 minutes.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio – New World Heavyweight Champion
Analysis: *** I was shocked by this match result. I didn’t see it coming. It’s disappointing to see Ziggler’s title run ended so quickly. What also surprised me was that it looks like Del Rio is turning heel while Ziggler could have a babyface run in his near future. It makes me think that WWE has given up on Del Rio as a face and are going to put him back into his more natural heel role. The Ziggler babyface turn has been rumored for a long time. Perhaps it’s a case of the Chicago crowd deciding who they want to cheer, but I think based on what the announcers said it’s likely that this match was a double turn after all. What I liked about the match the most is that Del Rio can claim that he’s one of the smartest wrestlers alive because he attacked the head of a guy that had a serious concussion. It will make the fans hate him, but he has a point if he says that. I realize that a lot of people are probably upset that Ziggler lost the World Title. As a fan of the guy I’m sad that he lost too. I’m not going to call it a bad move, though. Time will tell. If Ziggler ends up being one of the biggest babyfaces in WWE due to this storyline then it’s for the best in the long term. There are a lot of questions like what happens with AJ and Big E after all of this too.
Del Rio posed with the World Title by the entrance. The crowd chanted for Ziggler while the WWE doctor helped him to the back. AJ Lee was crying. Then they played a “don’t try this at home” ad. How fitting.
The Payback discussion panel talked about the World Title change. As they were talking, Del Rio showed up with Rodriguez by the entrance.
Del Rio wanted Chicago to cheer him. Most of the fans booed him. He said he proved why he deserves to be our champion. He claimed that he did what he did for the fans just like he does every night. Del Rio asked the fans for their support and then Ricardo Rodriguez said Del Rio’s name the way he does during his introductions.
Analysis: Babyface promo or insincere heel? It seemed heel to me.
There was a video package about the return of CM Punk.
Chris Jericho made his entrance first. He got a good reaction, but it was nothing compared to CM Punk. There was a bit of a delay before Punk came out. When he entered to Cult of Personality (no new theme song if you’re wondering) it was one of the loudest ovations you will ever hear. Punk was rocking a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu hoodie. Paul Heyman was by his side. Punk looked a little bit like Wolverine based on the style of his facial hair. He also had more hair than when we last saw him two months ago. I also really liked how the announcers didn’t talk during the two minutes it took Punk to get into the ring. They let the pictures and sounds to do the talking.
CM Punk (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Chris Jericho
This was the match I anticipated the most on this show. Loud “CM Punk” chants by the crowd. Punk had on tights supporting the Chicago Blackhawks, who are in the Stanley Cup Finals in hockey. They had a slow pace early on as JBL called it a feeling out process, which was a smart way of putting it. Jericho clotheslined Punk over the top to the floor. Punk countered Jericho’s springboard dropkick by dropping Jericho throat first across the top rope. Double axehandle off the top by Punk for two. JBL said the slower pace would help Punk get back in the groove of having a match. Punk missed an attack off the top rope, so Jericho came back with a running bulldog. Jericho missed a Lionsault, which led to Punk hitting a successful neckbreaker for two. Punk hit his running knee in the corner, but Jericho countered the bulldog and hit a Lionsault for a two count. Heyman looked worried at ringside. Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho, which Punk was able to fight out of and he applied the Anaconda Vice. Heyman yelled “tap” from ringside. Jericho made it to the ropes. Punk put Jericho on his shoulders, went for the GTS and yelled out “Blackhawks in 7” (hockey reference). Jericho slipped out of the GTS attempt and Heyman was standing on the steel steps. Punk was surprised Heyman was up there. Jericho rolled up Punk for a two count. There’s the first sign of an issue between them. Punk gave Jericho a roundhouse kick to put both men down. Jericho hit a Codebreaker for two. It didn’t connect perfectly although it was still a great nearfall.
They exchanged punches and kicks in the middle of the ring with the crowd reacting positively to anything Punk did. Jumping heel kick to the face by Punk. Top rope elbow by Punk to a huge ovation. Punk hit the Go To Sleep. That only got a two count. Lawler pointed out that Punk didn’t get all of it. Blame it on the Wolverine beard, I guess. The crowd chanted “one more time” to Punk. I love this crowd. Jericho fought out of it, so Punk gave him a clothesline over the top to the floor. Punk hit a dive between the top and middle rope onto Jericho outside the ring. Back in the ring, Punk went for a springboard attack. Jericho was able to avoid it and hit the Codebreaker. Heyman was freaking out about it. Jericho only got a two count. That was a very believable nearfall. Loud “this is awesome” chant by the crowd, which is true in my opinion. Jericho was on the offensive and when Punk tried a hurricanrana, Jericho blocked it. He applied the Walls of Jericho as Punk tried to fight it off. Heyman was freaking out at ringside telling Punk not to tap out. Punk fought his way out of the Walls of Jericho with a series of elbows and fists. Punk hit the Go to Sleep. Jericho bounced off the turnbuckle. Punk hit another GTS and he covered Jericho for the victory after 22 minutes.
Winner: CM Punk
Analysis: ****1/2 Wow. That was special. It’s one of the best matches of the year. Their chemistry is amazing. They did such an awesome job of putting together this match with great nearfalls throughout. The crowd was electric for everything they did. It was the kind of match that makes me love the wrestling business after watching it for over 25 years. I think what makes their matches so great is their ability to counter signature spots in ways that lead the fans to believe that the match could end on a counter hold. I really liked a few of the spots particularly the Codebreaker counter when Punk was leaping off the top rope and also the way Punk broke out of the Walls of Jericho at the end. Whenever these two wrestle you know you’re going to witness a classic and they didn’t disappoint us. I got my prediction wrong on this one. I thought that Jericho might win by going heel thanks to the accidental help of Heyman. That didn’t happen. Punk won clean. That was the easier prediction. I was thinking WWE may try to surprise us a bit. Nope. I’m glad Punk is back, obviously. He was fresh and performed at a high level like we’ve come to expect from him. I still think that John Cena vs. CM Punk on February 25 is the best WWE match of the year, but this match is in the top five so far in 2013.
After the match, Punk celebrated his victory in the ring. It almost looked like he was having a disagreement with Heyman about something. The announcers didn’t mention it. There wasn’t much in the post match. I was hoping for some replays of the big spots, but they didn’t even show that.
The tag title match was next. Randy Orton got a good reaction, but the ovation for Daniel Bryan was huge. Lots of appreciative “yes” chants from the crowd.
Tag Team Championships: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton
I’m a bit surprised that they would put this match in this spot after the Punk match. Bryan tried to get some offense in early, but the heels ended up isolating him in their corner. Loud “Daniel Bryan” chant to support the man with the goat face. Orton tagged in at the same time as Rollins and hit his spinning powerslam. Orton hit the DDT off the ropes on Reigns even though Rollins was legal. Powerslam on Rollins got a two count. Orton hit the DDT off the ropes on Rollins. The first time Cole said “vintage” and the second time he said “classic.” Way to expand, Cole. The ref was distracted by Bryan for some reason, so Reigns dropped Orton with a leaping Superman Punch. That meant the heels were in control. Rollins did that great spot where he slams Orton’s head into the middle turnbuckle. They replayed it. It seems like they replay it all the time, which is smart. Reigns hit a Samoan Drop on Orton for two. Rollins hit a jumping head kick to knock Orton down. Reigns ran shoulder first into the turnbuckle and Orton gave Rollins an overhead suplex to put him down. Bryan got the hot tag. He was on fire. Dropkicks for everybody. Hard kick to the head on Reigns for a nearfall. Both members of The Shield were out on the floor. Bryan hit his running dive attack between the top/middle ropes and the Shield guys moved out of the way, so Bryan hit Orton by accident. Oops. Bryan hit a dropkick on Reigns and then Rollins tagged in. Bryan hit a top rope butterfly suplex on Rollins for a two count. That was sweet. No Lock by Bryan on Rollins, but Reigns was there to save it. Orton went back into the ring. Reigns went for a Spear and Orton moved out of the way so Bryan got hit with it. Orton with the RKO on Reigns. Rollins shoved Orton out of the ring. Rollins gave Bryan the running curb stomp that I know he’s referred to as the Blackout in the past. That was enough to pin Bryan as the champs retained their titles in a 14 minute match.
Winners: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns
Analysis: **1/2 I’m surprised it wasn’t a better match. I guess the bar has been raised too high. They handled the finishing sequence well, but the build up to it wasn’t as exciting as a lot of Shield matches. The main story coming out of the match was that Bryan accidentally hit Orton outside the ring while Orton didn’t save his partner. The replay even showed that Orton shoved Bryan into the Spear. All of this could be leading to an Orton heel turn. The result was what I expected. The only thing I would have changed is I would have had Orton take the pinfall. In the end it doesn’t matter too much.
The announcers set up the Three Stages Hell match for the WWE Championship. There was also a video package.
Ring announcer Justin Roberts went over all of the stipulations for the three stages of hell. The Lumberjacks walked out to the ring, so that meant “legends” like Jinder Mahal, JTG and Alex Riley got to main event a pay-per-view. Remember Ted Dibiase Jr.? He has a beard now. So there’s that too. I’m not listing all of them, but there were about thirty guys out there. Ryback didn’t get a huge reaction from the fans. Cena sounded like he got a lot of cheers, but once the match began that usually changed in Chicago.
WWE Championship (Three Stages of Hell): John Cena vs. Ryback
First Fall: Lumberjack Match
The Lumberjack match was the first fall as Ryback attacked Cena aggressively. Powerslam by Ryback. Lawler said the origin of the Lumberjack was from Canada where lumberjacks would settle issues by fighting in areas where other lumberjacks surrounded them. Not everybody has wrestling rings, you know. It looked like Sin Cara was really into this match. Perhaps he’s just happy to be on a pay-per-view again. Ryback hit a jawbreaker variation for two. Ryback threw Cena outside the ring on the heel side so they could get some shots in and that got Ryback a two count. Suplex by Ryback. The crowd isn’t into the match early on. They even chanted “RVD” to entertain themselves. Cena hit his spinning suplex, but Ryback came back by giving Cena Gorilla Press Slam onto the lumberjacks outside the ring. Cena dumped Ryback outside the ring and all the lumberjacks started brawling. Cena went to the top rope and he jumped onto a big pile of lumberjacks. There were literally 15-20 people that fell down on that spot. That’s a lot of people selling a splash. The crowd liked that spot. It was well done. Back in the ring, Ryback hit Cena with Shellshocked and that was enough to win the first fall of the match in about eight minutes.
Winner of first fall: Ryback
Analysis: You read that right. Cena got pinned clean in eight minutes. How many times has that happened? Only when there are other falls in a match, of course. Justin Gabriel reacted to the fall by putting his hands on his head as if he was shocked by it. It’s okay Justin. Your hero would try his best to come back.
The lumberjacks left as the Tables Match was up next.
Second Fall: Tables Match
As the second fall began, Ryback was in full control. Ryback set up a table in the ring. Ryback hit a shoulder tackle that was almost like a spear so the crowd chanted “Goldberg” at him. Cole didn’t acknowledge the name although he mentioned the 14,000+ fans in the building. Cena was able to dump Ryback outside the ring. He propped up the table against the turnbuckle. Ryback threw Cena into the steel steps and then he brought the steps into the ring. Ryback hit Cena in the head with the steps. He threw the steps towards Cena, so that broke the table. Cena took him down with a slam followed by a shot to Ryback’s head with the steel steps. Cena brought another table into the ring. Ryback attacked with the table again, but Cena moved and Ryback broke the table with the steps. Cena made the Superman comeback with the shoulder tackle, spinning suplex and Five Knuckle Shuffle. Ryback came back with a spinebuster. Meat Hook Clothesline by Ryback, who retrieved another table from under the ring. Ryback wanted his finisher, but Cena countered it into the Attitude Adjustment through the table. The match was at the 16 minute mark now.
Winner of second fall: John Cena
Analysis: Ryback was in control for most of it. Cena’s counter into the AA was well done and was put over as a smart desperation move on his part.
Third Fall: Ambulance Match
Despite being put through the table, Ryback popped back up pretty quickly. He threw Cena outside the ring and then he cleaned off the English announce table. The Spanish table looked jealous. Poor thing. Ryback gave Cena a powerbomb through the table. Cena sold the move unlike when Ryback went through a table a couple of minutes earlier. As they went back into the ring, the dueling “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” started. The ref rang the bell to start the third portion of the match. Apparently they had to be in the ring for that. Ryback put Cena on his shoulder and took him over to the ambulance waiting by the entrance.
Cena shoved Ryback into the side of the ambulance. They did a spot where Ryback punched Cena, but Cena moved and Ryback’s hand broke the window on the passenger side door. That’s actually a spot Goldberg did in WCW, but when he did it he broke his hand. Ryback was fine here. Cena drove Ryback back first into the side of the ambulance. They opened the driver’s door, which led to Cena whipping Ryback into it. That broke the door. That’s a different kind of spot for sure. Cena attacked with the ambulance door. Ryback grabbed a piece off the side of the ambulance and hit Cena in the back with it. Cena gave Ryback a backdrop onto the hood of the ambulance. Cena grabbed the lights off the top of the ambulance. He hit Ryback with the lights. Cena crawled up to the top of the ambulance. Ryback followed with a crutch in his hand. Cena hit Ryback in the back with the crutch. Cena gave Ryback the Attitude Adjustment while they were on the roof of the ambulance and Ryback went through it. Since Ryback landed inside the ambulance, Cena won the match. It went 25 minutes.
Winner of third fall: John Cena
Winner: John Cena (2 to 1)
Analysis: **1/2 They got a lot of time and had the match that I think a lot of us expected them to have with a lot of weapons in play. I doubt many people really thought Ryback was going to win because we’re only a couple of months into Cena’s WWE Title reign. It felt like a Cena match we’ve seen a number of times where he has to overcome the heel. A lot of his main events over the years have ended with Cena winning a gimmick match similar to this one. The best spots of the match were Cena’s dive onto the lumberjacks and the creative finish that ended the Ambulance Match. I’m not sure what’s next for Ryback. His last win on pay-per-view was Money in the Bank last year, so next PPV will be one year since he last won a major match. I think his character was hurt by going heel. He’s better as a babyface. As for Cena, the rumors are that he’ll have a WWE Title feud with Daniel Bryan at Money in the Bank. I hope that’s still the plan and that Bryan remains a babyface for it. We’ll find out hopefully this week on Raw or in the near future.
The show ended with the ambulance leaving while Cena posed in the ring with the WWE Title still in his possession. Replays showed the finishing spot from a few different angles. There was that “Don’t Hinder Jinder” sign again. Cena left as Payback went off the air at the 2 hour and 51 minute mark.
Five Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk – Looks like he didn’t miss a step.
2. Chris Jericho – Awesome performance.
3. Curtis Axel – In one month he went from being a nobody to a somebody. Good booking.
4. Dolph Ziggler – Great job of selling in his match, which is usual for him.
5. Alberto Del Rio
I give the show a very good score of 8 out of 10.
The best pay-per-view in 2011 was Money in the Bank held in Chicago. The best pay-per-view in 2012 was Extreme Rules held in Chicago. The best pay-per-view after the first five events in 2013? Payback held in Chicago. Yes, it’s one of the best wrestling cities in the world, but it also helps when WWE puts on an entertaining card like this one.
The highlight of the show was obviously the Punk-Jericho match. Whenever you can have a match of the year contender on a pay-per-view it’s going to raise the status of the event.
The good thing is that one match didn’t carry the show. All seven matches were entertaining to me. Nothing was bad. It’s not like any of the matches dragged it down.
There are several stories that make me want to find out what’s next. What will happen with Del Rio and Ziggler? Is the Bryan/Orton story done or will one of them turn heel? Is Kaitlyn going to recover from all the bad things that happened to her lately? Since it appears like CM Punk is on the outs with Paul Heyman (there’s a video on WWE.com about it), what will happen on Raw to further that story? Will Ryback be hurt by this loss? Who is the next opponent for Cena?
I liked the last month of Raw a lot. I really enjoyed Payback. I think this summer is going to be a very entertaining one for World Wrestling Entertainment.
If you missed Payback I’d suggest giving it a look. I had a lot of fun watching it and writing about it.
Thanks for reading.