This was written live on the night of the show.
From the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois
June 1, 2014 (Twitter @johnreport)
Here are some notes from the Kickoff show.
I missed the first seven minutes of it, but as I turned on WWE Network there was a video package for John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt. The Kickoff show panel is Josh Mathews, Booker T, Kofi Kingston and Alex Riley.
Backstage, Byron Saxton interviewed Nikki Bella who said she hasn’t spoken to her sister Brie or Daniel Bryan. She has no idea what’s going to happen. What an insightful interview.
The panel talked about the Bryan situation as the crowd in the background got bored, so they chanted for CM Punk. That should be a running theme all night.
Hair vs. Mask: El Torito w/Diego & Fernando vs. Hornswoggle w/Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal & Drew McIntyre
They did a comedy spot that involved an airplane spin and then they collided. Hornswoggle did a splash on the mat because he couldn’t tell where he was. The announcers were making all kinds of jokes. Crowd was chanting “Let’s Go Hawks” in support of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team that is playing in Chicago tonight in game 7 of the West Finals. Hornswoggle missed a moonsault off the middle rope. The regular sized men all brawled around the ring. Hornswoggle wanted to hit a dive outside the ring, but he couldn’t so Drew McIntyre did a dive over the top. Hornswoggle actually hit a dive between the middle/bottom rope. Torito gave Slater a hurricanrana off the apron onto the other guys on the floor. The crowd chanted “this is awesome” and the announcers heard that one. Hornswoggle hit a Powerbomb. He ripped off a mask, but Torito had another mask on. Torito hit a moonsault off the middle rope for the pinfall win after 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: El Torito
Analysis: * It really sucked early on, but then they did the sequence of dives that got the crowd into it. It was a silly match.
Post match, Hornswoggle sat in the chair and Torito cut his hair with scissors. Then he used a razor to shave it. Hornswoggle was all sad as the announcers sold it as the worst thing ever. Torito was using a disposable razor.
Analysis: Please end this feud. I’m sure it makes Vince McMahon and Triple H laugh, which is all that really matters to them, but this time could be better served if it was done to help a midcard wrestler that could benefit from being on a PPV Kickoff show.
The panel talked about what happened. Booker was just laughing over the top as if it was the funniest thing ever. It was not, but if you work for WWE then you will suck up to the boss by laughing like it was amazing.
Backstage, Cody Rhodes & Goldust talked in the locker room about unity.
Booker T was told that Kofi Kingston has to face Bo Dallas later in Payback.
Sheamus was shown walking backstage so he’s up first against Cesaro. That’s it for the Kickoff show.
WWE Payback Main Card
The opening video package focused on the stories between The Shield and Evolution as well as John Cena and Bray Wyatt.
The announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show. Sheamus entered to defend his US Title. They showed clips of his problems with Cesaro to set up this match. There’s a “What About Me? What About Maven?” sign in the crowd. I approve.
Paul Heyman entered to a good reaction from the fans. They appreciate greatness. He said he’s there to advocate for a Paul Heyman Guy. There’s the “CM Punk” chant. Heyman said: “He’s not here tonight – he’s over at the United Center watching the Blackhawks. Watching the Blackhawks get their Streak broken by the LA Kings.” Well played. Then he mentioned Brock Lesnar beating Undertaker at WrestleMania. Cesaro entered as they welcomed the Spanish announce team.
United States Title: Sheamus vs. Cesaro w/Paul Heyman
It was very physical early on as expected with Sheamus putting him on the apron and hitting the ten forearm shots. He ended up hitting twenty of them. Sheamus slammed him into the barricade outside the ring. Cesaro hit an uppercut shot that sent Sheamus off the apron and onto the floor. Cesaro did his amazing power spot by suplexing Sheamus while he was on the apron. Nice double underhook Powerbomb and then double stomp for two by Cesaro. Sheamus came back with the backbreaker for two. Sheamus continued the assault with three knee drops off the middle rope for two. Uppercut off the middle rope by Cesaro for two of his own. Sheamus went off the ropes, so Cesaro sent him up in the air and hit an uppercut to nail him. Great spot. Sheamus came back with a powerslam. Shouldn’t he be selling a bit more after the uppercut? Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick, so Cesaro hit a bridging German Suplex for two and then Sheamus hit White Noise for two of his own. Cloverleaf submission hold by Sheamus in the middle of the ring, but Cesaro was able to crawl to the ropes.
Cesaro came back with an overhead slam for two. There have been so many nearfalls. Cesaro hit the Cesaro Swing to a huge pop and he hit over 20 rotations. Cesaro doesn’t do the move very often since he’s been a Heyman Guy. He wanted to hit the Neutralizer, but Sheamus countered with a small package out of nowhere to win it after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a very entertaining opener that I wish got another five minutes, but I’m not going to complain too much about it. It was a bit surprising to see Cesaro losing clean like that although it was done in a manner where it came off like an upset rather than a decisive win by Sheamus. If Cesaro is going to win Money in the Bank in four weeks then he doesn’t need the US Title. It’s better to keep it on Sheamus. The nearfalls they had during the match made it really exciting and the crowd loved what they were seeing. I got that prediction right with Sheamus winning. Didn’t know how they would do the finish, but what they did worked well enough.
There was a commercial for WWE Countdown on WWE Network. I’ve only had WWE Network for about a week. It’s a good show.
It’s an added match with Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel
The announcers have selective hearing when they mention the crowd being loud. After a couple of minutes of offense from the faces, Rybaxel isolated Goldust in the corner. The crowd was chanting “Let’s Go Blackhawks” as their way to show they don’t care about this match. Powerslam by Ryback, then a suplex and they continued to work over Goldust in their corner. Another Blackhawks chant. Goldust hit a sunset flip into a Powerbomb on Axel to break out of the corner. Cody received the hot tag against Ryback, which saw Cody on fire with a lot of moves including a missile dropkick. He hit a dropkick on a leaping Axel too. Cody hit a moonsault press on both guys, but he lost his footing and hit his head. He looked like he was fine. Ryback caught Cody off a Disaster Kick attempt and hit a Powerbomb into Goldust. Meat Hook Clothesline gets two after Goldust saved him. Cody came back to hit Cross Rhodes, but Axel made the save. Cody wanted the Disaster Kick. Ryback caught him and hit Shellshock for the win after 8 minutes. Axel was holding Goldust to prevent him from saving.
Winners by pinfall: Ryback & Curtis Axel
Analysis: ** It was an average tag match that was just done to further the storyline with Cody frustrated about not being able to win matches of late. That was an impressive display of power by Ryback to catch him on his shoulders and finish him off the way he did.
Post match, Cody asked for the microphone. Goldust tried to tell him everything was okay. Cody told Goldust he needs a better tag team partner than him. He left. Goldust looked sad.
Analysis: No heel turn yet. It’s coming soon although I like Cody more in the face role. He’s been a heel for most of his career.
The ravishing Russian Lana appeared on the stage and said…does it matter? Look at her! She said the world laughs at the USA, but America has fallen to Russia now. They showed the Vladimir Putin picture to big heat like usual. Rusev was introduced and he’s going up against Big E in a battle of guys who have shortened names. Big E was waving a USA flag and wore stars & stripes gear. “This match has become a matter of national pride.” – Michael Cole. Poor America.
Rusev w/Lana vs. Big E
There was a “We Want Ziggler” chant early on that the announcers completely ignored. Big E hit a shoulder tackle while Rusev was on the apron and they went crashing to the floor. Big E has been doing that move in nearly every match. It usually generates a big reaction. Crowd loved it. Rusev hit a hard kick to the face that knocked Big E down. Lana told Rusev to crush, so that’s what he did as he applied The Accolade and Big E tapped out. The match went four minutes.
Winner by submission: Rusev
Analysis: * Big E got his one big move in, but it was a four minute win that was very impressive by Rusev.
There was a commercial telling us that four weeks from tonight is Money in the Bank on June 29.
Daniel Bryan was shown talking with his wife Brie Bella, but we couldn’t hear what was said.
It’s time to Bolieve with Bo Dallas making his PPV debut if you don’t count when he was on the main roster before. Bo insulted the Blackhawks by saying they were going to lose (they actually did), but all you had to do was Bolieve.
Kane’s music started up and he attacked Kingston in the ring. Dallas left the ring because he’s not an idiot. Kane gave Kingston a boot to the face outside the ring. Back in the ring, Kane gave Kingston a Chokeslam. Kane followed that up with a Tombstone in the center of the ring. Cue pyro.
Following the assault on Kingston, Bo Dallas entered the ring. He told Kofi not to worry because he’ll be back on his feet in no time and better than ever. “All you have to do – and all you have to do (to the crowd) – is Bolieve.”
After the attack, Cole explained that Kingston was critical of Stephanie McMahon so maybe that’s why Kane they did that.
Analysis: At least they tried to explain it. Bo Dallas has an interesting character that’s over the top and ridiculous. So far so good for him. He’ll need a feud soon.
Prior to his IC Title match, Bad News Barrett had some bad news. He said that after tonight RVD won’t get any more paychecks and today the Bull Hammer is going to send RVD on a permanent summer vacation. “Why? Because I am B…N…B.”
Analysis: That was fine. Better than some of the dialogue they give him.
Intercontinental Title: Bad News Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam
There was a dueling “Bad News Barrett/RVD” chant from the crowd. Spinning kick by RVD in the corner. He tossed Barrett into the barricade as they fought on the floor. RVD set up Barrett on the barricade stomach first and then hit the spinning kick off the apron that he does all the time. Back in the ring, BNB hit a hard boot to the stomach to take control. Barrett hit a Foley like elbow drop off the apron onto RVD on the floor. Barrett was still dominating until RVD caught a kick like he does every match and hit a spinning kick to the face. More kicks from RVD and then the Rolling Thunder for two count. He went up top for the Five Star Frog Splash, but Barrett moved. RVD got up and moved out of the way of the Bull Hammer followed by a rollup using the legs for two. Winds of Change slam by BNB for two. Bull Hammer elbow on the floor missed, which led to Barrett hitting the post. RVD launched himself into the ring to hit a tornado DDT for two. Barrett blocked the moonsault with the knees. Barrett hit the Bull Hammer elbow shot to the face for the win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bad News Barrett
Analysis: ** It was a predictable match with Barrett winning clean. RVD’s at the point in his career where he’s only there to lose to the younger wrestlers. There was some decent amount of psychology, but like most RVD matches it was about him hitting his signature spots. I liked the finish. I’m 4-0 so far on advertised matches counting the pre-show.
There’s a video package for Daniel Bryan’s decision about either keeping the WWE Title or watching his wife Brie Bella get fired.
Daniel Bryan’s Decision
Stephanie McMahon entered the ring. She was looking very nice. The crowd booed her as soon as she spoke. She called for Daniel Bryan to walk out there.
The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan entered the ring along with his wife Brie Bella. He also had the two championships and a neck brace on. Huge ovation for him. The crowd was chanting “yes” for him.
Stephanie wondered if Bryan would do the right thing or if he would be selfish. Bryan wondered if Stephanie heard the reaction when she came out there. The crowd booed to tell her what it sounded like. She said it doesn’t change the fact that she’s still the boss. Bryan said he will give her the chance to do the right thing. He talked about fighting to main event at WrestleMania. Fans were chanting “CM Punk” and Stephanie said the fans want him to quit just like CM Punk did.
Bryan was wondering if Stephanie’s kids were watching so they could see that their mother was a selfish, narcissistic…and he asked Brie for the word…bitch. Crowd chanted “yes” for that.
Stephanie said that the only crime that Brie has committed was making a poor choice in a husband. Brie told Bryan they both know what needs to be done.
Bryan stared at one of the two titles. The crowd chanted “no” for that. Stephanie told him to hand it over. Brie told him not to and she said she refused to be a powerless victim. Steph said that Brie works for her. Brie cut her off by saying “you can’t fire me…I quit!” Brie slapped Stephanie again. Huge pop! Loud “yes” chants from the crowd. Stephanie was shocked, so she left.
Analysis: Brie is pretty happy about quitting, but she married a rich guy so I guess it’s okay. She did the honorable thing for her husband. I give Stephanie a lot of credit for her promo work in that segment. It was amazing. Her line about CM Punk was well timed too. That really pissed off the crowd. As for Bryan’s title reign, he could be cleared to compete by the end of this month or soon after so that’s why WWE is keeping the title on him. That’s the right call. That was a hot segment. Well done by everybody involved.
(As a side note, people have messaged me asking if I saw that it looked like Stephanie McMahon pissed herself. She did not. it’s a glare from the dress. I’m no fashion expert, but come on people. It was the type of dress she had on that made it look like something when it was really not.)
They plugged Legends House on WWE Network.
It’s time for John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, so here’s the video package highlighting their feud.
Bray Wyatt made his entrance along with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. There was a big reaction for him. Lots of cell phones held up for light during his darkened entrance. There were “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chants for Cena before he even got out there. He showed off a “never give up” towel during his entrance. Yes John, you need more merch.
The match was about to begin when The Usos made their way down to the ring to stand beside Cena.
Last Man Standing: John Cena w/The Usos vs. Bray Wyatt w/Erick Rowan & Luke Harper
There are four guys at ringside in a match that doesn’t really have rules. Wyatt hit a running splash in the corner. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle early on, but Wyatt countered with a gutbuster. Wyatt hit an impressive one arm slam as the ref counted to seven when Cena got up. Cena fought out of Sister Abigail, so Wyatt nailed him with a running body attack. Wyatt sent him head first into the side of the apron. Wyatt was staring at Lawler at ringside. Dueling Cena chants by the crowd. They each went for some big moves, but Wyatt was able to win that battle as he hit Sister Abigail. It’s only six minutes into the match, so of course Cena got up at nine. Cena came back with the Attitude Adjustment, so Wyatt was counted down to 7 and then Wyatt got up in his crab pose. Cena freaked out. Rowan went after Cena, so one of the Usos took him out. Harper nailed a dive onto one of the Usos and Harper. Corkscrew assault by one of the Usos on three guys outside the ring. Back to the match, Wyatt nailed Cena in the ribs with a chair followed by a shot to the back. Outside the ring, Cena avoided a chair shot and then crushed Wyatt in the back with the chair. The four other guys at ringside look like they have left. Cena hit Wyatt in the back with another chair shot. He tossed it outside the ring as Wyatt was bleeding from the mouth.
Cena grabbed a table from under the ring and set it up in the ring. Wyatt picked him up and slammed him through the table to mostly cheers from the crowd. Cena was up at 8. Wyatt brought steel steps into the ring, which he rammed into Cena’s face. Wyatt led the crowd into singing “he’s got the whole world in his hands” as Cena struggled to get back to his feet. Cena avoided a chair shot, then picked up the steps and nailed Wyatt with them. Cena picked up the steps, which he sold as being really heavy. Wyatt was outside the ring, so Cena threw the steps into him. Wyatt got up at 9. The replay of that was really cool. Wyatt gave Cena the Sister Abigail into the barricade at ringside. Cena got back up and then threw Wyatt into the steel steps. Back body drop by Wyatt onto Cena, who went crashing into the other half of the steel steps. Wyatt hit the running senton dive with his back crushing the stomach of Cena. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on the floor. Harper & Rowan went into the ring to attack Cena. They helped Wyatt get to his feet and then Harper hit Cena with a boot to the face. The Usos ran back out to save Cena and took out Rowan with a dive. Harper nailed the other Uso brother with a table to the head. The legs on the table broke.
Wyatt’s down outside the ring and Cole was freaking about how the ref wasn’t counting. The ref John Cone is watching the four guys not in the match. Jimmy Uso nailed Rowan with a big kick and then a running butt splash into a table against a barricade. Harper gave Jimmy a Superplex through two tables set up outside the ring. That was impressive. Loud “holy shit” chant for that. Wyatt took out Cena with a running body attack outside the ring and they went crashing through a barricade.
Cena brawled with Wyatt into the crowd and by the stage with Wyatt in control. Cena put Wyatt on his shoulders. He gave him the Attitude Adjustment through a wooden case of some kind. It looks like a case that held equipment. Cena covered the case with another one and stood on it. The ref counted Wyatt down as Cena won after 24 minutes.
Winner and Last Man Standing: John Cena
Post match, Cena helped The Usos back to their feet as they posed together following the replays.
Analysis: ***3/4 I thought it was a very physical match that was hurt a bit by all the interference. It was a bit silly to have so many spots for the other four guys because it took away from the action a bit much. I give Cena and Wyatt credit for working hard, taking some big bumps, breaking some tables and having a decisive finish. However, it was not the epic match of the year type of battle that the announcers talked about. That’s what they always do in Cena matches, though. It was still a really good match, but it was hitting finishers and breaking stuff with little psychology involved. It’s likely the end of the feud. Cena winning will probably piss some people off, but it’s no surprise that he was victorious in the end. I’m 5-0 in predictions so far.
The announcers kept talking about how great of a match it was.
Alicia Fox made her entrance, so they showed clips of her going crazy in the last couple of weeks.
Divas Title: Paige vs. Alicia Fox
Paige was aggressive early on, but Paige tripped her up. Fox was trash talking fans as Lawler mentioned the clown at ringside, which is my buddy Frank The Clown. The crowd was bored of this so they were chanting “Let’s Go Blackhawks” as Fox drove her feet into the back and grabbing her face. Fox hit a backbreaker. This match was dying. You could hear Fox yelling because it’s quiet in there. Paige made her comeback with some clotheslines and she yanked her out of the corner. Paige applied the PTO (Paige Tap Out) that was once called the Scorpion Cross Lock. Fox tapped out after seven minutes.
Winner by submission: Paige
Analysis: *1/2 It was a predictable match with Paige winning clean. They built up Fox well, but it’s not her time to win the gold. Plus, all people care about is her freaking out anyway. I’m 6-0 in the predictions on the advertised matches.
Post match, the camera was on Fox after the loss. She freaked out, but not as much as she has on television in the last month.
The expert panel of Josh Mathews, Booker T & Alex Riley talked about the show so far.
Time for main event: Evolution vs. The Shield. Here’s the video package.
Evolution entered first. Randy Orton and Triple H were in black. Batista was in some blue/purple type of outfit. The @WWEUniverse account on Twitter called him #Bluetista and I think that works. Here’s a pic.
No Holds Barred Elimination Match: Evolution (Triple H, Randy Orton & Batista) vs. The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose)
They paired off early fighting all over the ringside area. Weapons are allowed. Reigns was dominating Batista. No Holds Barred usually means anything goes, yet it turned into a regular tag match with two guys going at it in the ring while the others were on the apron. Why would they just let two guys battle in the ring when they could just interfere with weapons? It doesn’t make sense to me. It would be nice if they explained it better. Reigns nailed Batista with a huge clothesline. There was a slow build up as Reigns faced off with Triple H because this is probably going to be a singles match soon, most likely at SummerSlam. The Shield made quick tags keeping Triple H in their corner with Rollins hitting three vertical suplexes in a row like Eddie Guerrero. Fans acknowledged it.
Ambrose ended up as the face in peril as Evolution worked him over in their corner. Is that a “Bootista” chant or “Bluetista” chant? Likely Bootista, but Bluetista definitely applies although some might think it’s purple too. Apparently #Bluetista was the #1 trend on Twitter, so congrats on that. The action was pretty slow as they worked over Ambrose, but Ambrose came back by tossing Hunter in the corner so he could do his bump over the top to the floor. Hunter came back with a knee to the face, but Ambrose bounced off the ropes with a clothesline. Reigns received the hot tag against Batista. Corner clothesline by Reigns, then the running kick outside the ring with Batista by the apron. Rollins took out Orton. Hunter received a back body drop. Orton made the save for Batista.
All six guys started brawling as I wondered why this wasn’t happening for the last ten minutes. It’s like they remembered it’s a No Holds Barred match. Reigns and Batista were legal in the ring while Hunter worked over Rollins and Orton dealt with Ambrose. Hunter ended up smashing Rollins in the head with a metal object of some kind. Back at ringside, they worked over Reigns. Orton cleared off the Spanish announce table and Hunter cleared the English announce table. Evolution gave Reigns the three man Powerbomb through the table. They celebrated it, but then Ambrose and Rollins returned to take them out with diving attacks. There have been no eliminations 20 minutes into this match.
They all brawled up the aisle. Once again I ask why were they wrestling like this was a regular tag match? Chair to the back of Rollins. Suplex onto Ambrose on a chair. Triple H hit a Pedigree on Rollins on a steel chair. They left those two guys to focus on Reigns in the ring. They ripped off Reigns’ vest as women in the crowd cheered happily. They knocked out Reigns by slamming him head first onto the steel steps. Orton and Batista took turns hitting Reigns in the back with kendo sticks, which is why they took the vest off. Hunter joined in so all three Evolution members took turns attacking him. Hunter hit Reigns with a chair to the ribs and then the back. They went up the aisle to deliver more chair shots to Reigns. Ambrose briefly saved Reigns with an attack, but Orton gave him a DDT on the floor by the entrance. Seth Rollins was on the top of the video screen and hit a big dive off the Titantron (are we still calling it that?) that knocked everybody down. Huge move by Rollins!
Back in the ring, Batista faced off with Rollins. All eliminations have to take place in the ring, says Cole. Batista caught Rollins with a Spear and wanted a Batista Bomb, but Rollins countered so Reigns hit a Spear on Batista. Rollins covered to eliminate him 28 minutes into it.
Batista eliminated by Seth Rollins
Rollins turned around right into Orton, who hit a RKO. Reigns saved Rollins from the pin attempt. Ambrose hit Orton with the Dirty Deeds finish (headlock that slams opponent face first) to eliminate him.
Randy Orton eliminated by Dean Ambrose
Triple H hit a low blow on Ambrose. Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Triple H. Batista came back in to hit a Spear on Reigns even though he was eliminated from the match. Orton grabbed the sledgehammer from under the ring and he handed it to Triple H. Hunter nailed Ambrose in the head with the sledgehammer. He went for Reigns, but Rollins jumped off the top rope and hit Hunter with a knee to the face. Reigns hit the Spear on Hunter and pinned him to win the match after 31 minutes.
Triple H eliminated by Roman Reigns
Winners: The Shield (Reigns, Ambrose & Rollins)
Analysis: ***1/2 It was very good, but the booking was bizarre. It was ridiculous that they worked about 10 minutes of the match in a regular tag match format when there were no rules. They spent 20 minutes brawling outside the ring, using weapons, going all over the arena and being violent. If that was legal then why would they have a regular match at all? It’s as if they didn’t even know what their own stipulation was. That made no sense to me.
The biggest spot of the match was the dive by Rollins off the video screen. It was about 12 feet high, so it was very impressive. From that moment The Shield ended up dominating the matchup from that point. It was well done in the last five minutes. It still doesn’t make up for the confusion earlier in the match.
As for the results, I predicted The Shield would win with all three men surviving. My feeling was that Evolution isn’t going to be around long term so it would be a huge statement to have The Shield survive with all three of them standing tall. I went 7-0 in predictions for the advertised matches.
The show ended with The Shield celebrating the win at 10:57pmET.
Five Stars of the Show
1. John Cena
2. Bray Wyatt
3. Seth Rollins
4. Roman Reigns
5. Triple H
I’m giving it a 6.5 out of 10.
It was a predictable show with babyfaces winning the two big matches. There was also the babyface satisfaction of Stephanie McMahon getting slapped in the face by Brie Bella too.
There were some very good matches with Cena/Wyatt and Evolution/Shield, but I think both were missing something from making them special.
Cena/Wyatt felt like it was overbooked with all the interference as well as moments where Wyatt was just sitting there without being counted down. Then with Evolution/Shield it left me wondering how they booked the match. It was just weird. If Cesaro/Sheamus got another five minutes it would have helped. Everything else was pretty average.
I’m looking forward to some new feuds starting on Monday’s Raw.
Thanks for reading.