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WWE Payback PPV Review
By Jared Silberkleit – The hot streak of Chicago-based WWE PPVs continued with 2013’s Payback, easily one of WWE’s best shows of the year thus far and a nice rebound from the lackluster Extreme Rules and Wrestlemania 29. CM Punk’s return was easily the highlight of the night as him and Jericho put on another excellent singles match, but there were a number of other good matches up and down the card. Some of the booking was a little creative, and the crowd was rabid all night long. The wrestling quality isn’t quite great enough for this to contend for show of the year for pro wrestling as a whole, but this was a consistently fun PPV.
- Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett(c) vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel
This turned out better than expected and ended up being a very solid opener. Things were fairly average for the first 6 minutes or so, but the match really heated up in the last few minutes. They kept things moving almost the entire time with a lot of back and forth action. Great false finish where Miz hit the Skull-Crushing Finale on Axel before taking turns with Barrett dragging each other out of the ring, and Axel eventually kicked out of a cover by Miz. Barrett used the black hole slam and Axel busted out a Perfect-Plex for near falls. Miz hit his corner clothesline and got Barrett in the Figure Four. Barrett struggled for a while, but while he’s still in the hold Axel sneaks into the ring and pins his shoulders to the mat for the win. The announcers pushed that Barrett never tapped and Miz looked shocked. Very creative finish that made Axel look good for outsmarting the other two. Well-paced 3-way that picked up big time near the end. Match Time: 10:36 Star Rating: ***
- Divas Championship Match: Kaitlyn(c) vs. AJ
They gave these girls much more time than the usual Divas match, and although it was far from perfect, it was better than most Divas matches. Kaitlyn attacked early and threw AJ over the announce table before AJ took control and wore Kaitlyn down with a sleeper. AJ got a near fall by hitting Kaitlyn with her belt while the referee was busy fixing the ring apron that AJ had torn off. Kaitlyn catches AJ coming off the top but AJ locks in the Black Widow (Gail Kim’s Flying Dragon armbar). Kaitlyn breaks and hits a spear, blows AJ a kiss, and slams her down to the mat before covering for 2. AJ catches Kaitlyn in the Black Widow again and Kaitlyn eventually taps out. After the match Kaitlyn started crying but the crowd booed her and chanted “You Tapped Out”. Solid storytelling here but the execution wasn’t all that great with Kaitlyn being very clunky in spots. Still, they gave a lot more here than anyone should expect nowadays from the Divas. Match Time: 9:56 Star Rating: **1/4
- United States Championship Match: Dean Ambrose(c) vs. Kane
This wasn’t totally awful but it was the worst match on the show. Ambrose wore Kane down with punches and kicks for a while before Kane made his comeback, hitting the side slam and top rope clothesline. Ambrose snaps Kane’s neck on the top rope but Kane boots him to the floor. Kane tears apart the Spanish announce table but Ambrose DDTs him on the floor and wins the match by countout. Very flat finish as the match was just starting to pick up steam. Nothing particularly bad but very slow paced, TV quality match from these two. Match Time: 9:34 Star Rating: **
- World Heavyweight Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler(c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
Crowd was almost all for Ziggler right from the start. Big E was ejected from ringside early on after getting into a shoving match with Del Rio. They appeared to be doing a double turn in this match, with the story being Dolph valiantly fighting through the effects of his recent concussion, so Del Rio ended up playing the heel. They pushed the concussion angle throughout, with the referee trying to stop the match multiple times. Del Rio beat on Dolph for a while with punches and kicks but Dolph came back with the sleeper. Del Rio hung Dolph up in the ropes and laid into him with repeated forearms. Dolph countered the cross-armbreaker with a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Botched famouser also gets 2. Del Rio scores a near fall with a reverse superplex. A trainer tried to stop the match after a big kick from Del Rio but Dolph told him not to. Del Rio exploited the injury by repeatedly pounding and kicking at the head. Dolph hit the Zig Zag but couldn’t go for a cover. Del Rio struggled to his feet and hit a low superkick for the win. Ziggler sold the loss big time and the crowd chanted his name after the match while booing Del Rio. A few minutes later Del Rio came out for a promo asking for the fans’ support and talking about how he gives it 100% for the fans. The match was very one-sided but it worked to draw sympathy for Ziggler and set up this apparent double-turn, but Del Rio’s promo was odd seeing as the crowd had already turned against him, so one has to wonder whether it was indeed a heel promo or not. This was a good match with excellent storytelling, and WWE absolutely needs to move forward with Dolph as a top babyface. Match Time: 13:49 Star Rating: ***
- Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk
This was far and away the match of the night, and one of the top WWE matches of the year. Punk came out to an explosive pop, almost at the level of Money in the Bank 2011. Jericho ended up working subtle heel as the crowd was super into Punk all throughout. Slow pace early with Punk working Jericho’s arm. Jericho made a comeback and hit a double sledge off the top. Punk hit the high knee but Jericho countered the bulldog and hit a Lionsault for 2. Great spot where Punk countered the Walls of Jericho into the Anaconda Vise with both men on their feet before Punk swept the legs to fully cinch it in. Heyman got up on the apron, causing a distraction and allowing Jericho to roll up Punk for 2. Codebreaker for another near fall. Punk came back with a high knee, clothesline, and the Savage elbow followed by a GTS for 2. Punk shoves off a Codebreaker attempt and hits a suicide dive. Punk tried a springboard but Jericho caught him in mid-air with a Codebreaker for a great near fall. Punk went for a hurricanrana but Jericho held on and locked in the Walls. Punk struggled but pounded away and forced his way out of the hold. Punk then hit a GTS that sent Jericho backwards into the corner before hitting a second GTS for the win. This was an awesome match with some killer counter spots and a red-hot crowd. Punk and Jericho have developed some awesome chemistry together over the last year or so and this was a heck of a back and forth match. The near falls were extremely well done and Punk came off like a massive star in his return. With a few more minutes you’re talking about a possible match of the year contender. Match Time: 21:21 Star Rating: ****1/4
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The Shield(c) vs. Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan
Nice to see these guys so high up on the card but it was tough for them to follow Punk/Jericho. Heels got the heat on Bryan for a few minutes before Orton got a tag and made a comeback, catching Rollins coming off the top with a powerslam for 2. Shield then got the heat on Orton after a big forearm by Reigns. Orton hit an exploder to Rollins and hot-tagged Bryan, who started flying all over the place with dropkicks. Bryan went for a suicide dive but hit Orton by mistake. Bryan hit a crazy double underhook suplex off the top for 2. Bryan put Rollins in the No Lock but Reigns broke it up. Reigns shoved off an RKO and Orton nearly collided with Bryan. Reigns speared Bryan, Orton hit the RKO on Reigns, and Rollins threw Orton out of the ring before hitting the Blackout on Bryan for the win. Orton walked out on Bryan after the match. Awesome finish to another good match in this feud. These four have been involved in better matches recently on TV, but this was still good. It followed the standard tag match formula for the most part but they ended strong with a great finishing sequence. Match Time: 12:11 Star Rating: ***1/4
- Three Stages of Hell Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena(c) vs. Ryback
Rules here are that it’s 2 out of 3 falls; first fall is a lumberjack match, second is a tables match, and the third is an ambulance match. Ryback took control in the first fall with several slams and suplexes. The heel lumberjacks roughed up Cena a little when he got sent to the floor. Ryback got sent to the floor and shoved Antonio Cesaro, sparking a huge brawl between the lumberjacks. Cena then did a cross body off the top onto the pile, sending everyone to the ground. Cena locked in the STF but Ryback fought out and hit the Shellshock to win the lumberjack match. Goldberg chants rained down on Ryback at the start of the second fall. Ryback tried to hit Cena with the steel steps but missed and threw them through a table set up in the corner. Ryback then tried the same thing again and threw the steps through another table. Ryback tried for Shellshock but Cena escaped and hit an AA through a table to win the second fall. Ryback got to his feet and barely even sold the AA. He started beating on Cena and powerbombed him through the announce table before the bell rung to “officially” start the ambulance match. Ryback carried Cena up the ramp and they started fighting by the ambulance. Ryback missed a right hand and punched through the window. Cena whipped Ryback through the open front door before hitting him with it. Both guys kept ripping pieces off the ambulance to hit each other with. Eventually they fought to the top of the ambulance where Cena gave Ryback an AA through the roof for the win. As expected with the gimmick, this was a very over-the top main event with a lot of wacky stuff going on. The match never dragged and was fairly enjoyable at times but towards the end things got a little too goofy with the ambulance spots. There were some fun spots strewn throughout but it felt like the match was tailored more to the gimmick than a story being told by the wrestlers. Still, the match had its moments and was no worse than it was expected to be. Match Time: 20:59 (24:36 including the rest periods) Star Rating: **3/4
Overall PPV Rating: 7.75/10