HELLO AND WELCOME to The Big Review of Roman Reigns’ comebac- I mean WWE Payback 2020!
We’re only a week removed from SummerSlam, so there’s a lot of uppance to come in tonight’s appropriately-named show. Dom Mysterio gets another go at Seth Rollins via a tag team match with his old man, Apollo Crews defends his US Title against MVP’s mega evolution Bobby Lashley, we’ll be forced to hear Keith Lee’s dreadful new entrance music before his clash with Randy Orton, and Braun Strowman faces the Fiend for the Universal Championship he lost just seven days ago – but this time, the mighty gnashers of Roman Reigns are chomping their way into the mix. We’re in for quite a show.
I’m Mike, and as always, I’ll be doing the written equivalent of live-reacting to the show since I’m about to watch it, start to finish, for the first time. I’m settled down, strapped in and snacked up, so with that said, let’s get cracking into the kickoff show!
The Riott Squad vs The IIconics
Tag Team Match
It’s got to be the newly-formed Riott Squad, hasn’t it? The IIconics have been all over them for weeks, Ruby and Liv have barely laid a glove on them, so they’re bound to get their revenge here.
My prediction: The Riott Squad
After a back-and-forth start, Ruby Riott is cast in the role of face in peril and takes several minutes of wallopings from the Aussies. It’s a pretty slick showing from the IIconics, but after failing in a few attempts at pinning Ruby, they pull an Eddie Guerrero special out of their boots: with Liv distracted on the apron, Royce nails her in the head from behind and drops to the mat, with both IIconics pointing at Ruby and blaming her for the hit.
For a while, Liv Morgan struggles. She doesn’t know who or what to believe, and it looks like she’s going to walk out of the match – but after a decent tease, and with Riott reaching for a tag, she slaps the hand of her partner and enters the fray. It leads to a flurry of Riott Squad offense that’s eventually put paid to by Royce, and the IIconics manage to hit Déjà Vu on Ruby! It’s over! One! Two!! LIV in to break it up!! Great save!
The Riott Squad regain the advantage after the IIconics fail in another Déjà Vu attempt on Morgan. With their opponents knocked all over the shop, Liv hits Royce with Oblivion to take her out of the match before nailing Kay with a Codebreaker into the Riott Kick for the three count.
Winner: The Riott Squad (1/1)
Well deserved! Great to see these two back. Hopefully they can start to mix up the women’s tag title picture in the near future.
That’s the only match on the kickoff show, so with that done and dusted, let’s hit the main card!
Apollo Crews vs. Bobby Lashley w/ MVP & Shelton Benjamin
Singles Match for the United States Championship
Sadly, I think it’s time for Apollo to drop his championship. I don’t want him to, but this is essentially a three-on-one deal, so let’s not pretend MVP and Shelton aren’t going to play into the finish. We could even see some new recruits to the group before the end of the night…
I’m glad to make this prediction because I win either way: if Lashley wins, I win. If Crews wins, I’ll be delighted. Let’s do this.
My prediction: Bobby Lashley
An early power display by Lashley puts Apollo in trouble, but the “little man” (jesus, creative) doesn’t take long to use his agility to moonsault into the CEO of the Hurt Business on the outside. However, Lashley recovers to take full control of the match – even managing to hit the (new, worse version of the) Dominator, which only gets a two-count.
Rattled by his inability to win with a move that hasn’t beaten anyone for about a decade, Lashley gets desperate and eats a gigantic cross body from Crews that puts the champ back in control. He smashes Bobby with a spinebuster / standing moonsault for two, before hitting two German suplexes and a frog splash for another two! Great flurry of offense by Crews.
MVP screams, “you got this! He’s all yours!” at Lashley as he stumbles into the corner, obviously watching a different match – but maybe it’s all Bobby needs. He annihilates Crews with one of the highest, splattiest chokeslams I’ve seen in some time, before slapping in the Full Nelson. Apollo fights it, but Lashley takes him down… it’s locked in! Apollo taps! Tap out!
Winner: Bobby Lashley (2/2)
There’s a nice tribute to Chadwick Boseman from the heels in the aftermath as they pull out the Wakanda Forever pose – RIP, Panther – but after they break, Apollo attacks Lashley before scarpering up the ramp. He screams at them that he’ll be coming to get his title back. We’ll see about that, laddo.
Big E vs. Sheamus
Big E has been on a tear since he started this singles run with the rest of the New Day out injured, so I’m going for him to put Sheamus down here.
This has been built as a sort of “Battle of the Locker Room Leaders”, with Sheamus bullying around the heels and Big E stepping up to lead the faces. The only thing that makes me pause is the potential for Miz to interfere on behalf of the Irishman and cost E the win… but no. This feels like the chance for Smackdown’s resident prankster to get a very hard fought win that’ll establish him as a standout singles star.
My prediction: Big E
First of all, huge fan of the fact that E still tries to take Corey Graves’ headset off with his jacket throw before every match. It warms my heart.
Big E is so insanely impressive. He leapfrogs 6’3” Sheamus like he’s not even there, and while he dominates the early going of this match, he eventually messes up by missing a splash onto the apron – and from that point on, Sheamus takes total control.
He starts by hitting a shinbreaker to E that takes him down and proceeds to work on his left leg with brutal strikes and submissions for the next several minutes. However, E eventually recovers to hit two overhead belly-to-bellies and a corner Uranage for two.
Sheamus retakes control, mainly by targeting E’s leg again, but it’s not long until E puts Sheamus on the apron and hits that incredibly dangerous spear through the ropes that leaves both men down on the outside. Once they recover, back in the ring, Sheamus catches E in a heel hook, which he escapes from, but immediately eats a Celtic knee to the chops for two.
It looks good for the fella, who goes for the Brogue Kick – but is caught into a powerbomb! Big Ending! Cover! One… two… three!! Big E wins!
Winner: Big E (3/3)
Called it. Pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered: a massive challenge for Big E which he passed with flying colours. I really hope these are the opening steps on the path to a world title.
Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin
If you ask me, Riddle has been a bit lost in the shuffle since his explosive arrival on the scene where he beat the then-IC champ AJ Styles in a non-title encounter.
He and Corbin have had a flirty on-again, off-again arrangement since then, but finally, tonight will see the two blow off some steam on each other. This has become more erotic than I planned. Let’s move on.
While Corbin has the potential to call on outside interference to help him beat the Original Bro, I’m going to go for a marquee Riddle win here to put an end to this feud. Let’s move Matty up to the IC Title picture, can we?
My prediction: Matt Riddle
Riddle has barely kicked off his flippy-floppies when Corbin destroys him with a clothesline before the bell, taking control of the match for the next little while. Riddle recovers to slap a couple of excellent sleeper holds on the promoted Baron, but is quickly put down by Corbin not long after with a sidewalk slam for two. There’s another royalty cheque on its way to Kevin Nash.
Eventually, Riddle catches Corbin with a kick to the side of the head that puts him back on top; a Bro-ton / Penalty Kick combo gets two, but Corbin battles back to plant Matt with a Deep Six for another two!
We’re into Finisher territory now as Corbin rains down punches on Riddle, but this is where he wants you. Riddle slaps in a triangle, hits the Bro to Sleep, then the Floating Bro from the top – that’s three finishers with Bro in the name, and that’s a three count! Riddle wins! Cole says upset, I say watch more WWE TV, Michael!
Winner: Matt Riddle (4/4)
Post-match, and with a heavy heart, I must report that Corbin finds Riddle backstage and batters him into a catering table. This isn’t over just yet. Maybe Matt has some more moves to rename before he can move up the card. Does he have a Bro-mission yet? What about a Low Bro? No – the Bro Blow? Fuck me, I need a shower.
Sasha Banks & Bayley (c) vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Tag Team Match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
This is a tough one to predict. Really, it’s a case of trying to work out which team is going to collapse first. The challengers hate each other so that story tells itself, while the champs are slowly falling apart at the seams and could easily walk out on one another at any moment.
For what it’s worth, I actually think they should keep the belts on Sasha and Bayley for a bit longer – but I don’t think that’s what will happen. It would be very amusing to see the champs detonate and the challengers win the titles despite wanting nothing to do with each other. I’d tune into TV to see it, anyway.
My prediction: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Baszler starts by tagging herself straight into the match to face Sasha Banks. Banks clocks her with a kick early, which Shayna replies to by literally hoofing Banks off her feet and clubbing her in the back – I’m not sure if Sasha expected a receipt, but she’s got one.
Shayna shoes Sasha repeatedly in the head before Banks tags out to Bayley just before being launched through the ropes, and Baszler instantly puts Bayley into a hammerlock. However, moments later and with Sasha providing a distraction, Bayley launches Shayna into Nia, knocking her down, and the champs take control over the former MMA fighter.
Nia Jax, however, recovers on the outside to help her partner. She throws Bayley into the barricade before catching Sasha in a powerbomb position and swinging her repeatedly, headfirst, into the barricade as well. Banks is closed for business, leaving Bayley to get pummeled by Nia for the next little while – before the champs, once again, cause a distraction and double-team Jax to put her in peril this time.
Bayley eventually goes for a knee bar on Jax which sounds like a good idea, but Nia is so strong, she actually stands up and drags Bayley – still clutching her foot – over to her corner to tag Baszler. Shayna enters and wellies the ever-loving hell out of both Bayley and Sasha with kicks and knee strikes that would give me brain damage, tagging Nia back in to crush the champions in the corner. It looks good for the challengers!
Nia goes for a powerbomb that Banks reverses into a modified X-Factor – Bayley hits a leaping elbow, Banks with the frog splash! One! Two! KICKOUT by Jax! Close call there. Banks knees Nia in the head and tags Bayley back in; the two go for a double back body drop… but Baszler is legal! She puts Banks in the leg portion of the Muta lock… AND catches Bayley into the Kirifuda clutch! Sasha tries to turn around to break the holds, but Shayna grabs Banks’ arm… and uses it to choke Bayley out! She’s submitting both of them!! BAYLEY TAPS! I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT!
Winners: Shayna Baszler (mostly) and Nia Jax (5/5)
Wow wow wow, wow. Shayna Baszler just beat both Sasha Banks and Bayley. I mean, I realise Nia helped with a bit of happy slappery along the way, but that finish was epic. The Submission Magician just pulled off the biggest trick of her career.
The post match in-ring interview is exactly sort of car crash I’m hoping these two will be as the tag champions. Can’t wait for telly this week.
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton
Delighted for Keith Lee that he’s immediately in a programme with the man who’ll surely soon be a 14-time world champion. Absolutely devastated for Lee that he was made to effectively wear a skirt and walk out to generic rock nonsense rather than his banger of an entrance theme on an awful edition of Raw this past Monday.
I’m not sure how exactly, but I think Lee wins tonight. Probably via interference from supposedly-injured Drew McIntyre, I guess. Orton should win considering his overall momentum (notwithstanding his loss to that devastating SummerSlam backslide), but I can’t bet against Limitless on his WWE main roster PPV debut.
My prediction: Keith Lee
FIX THIS TRASH MUSIC. FIX IT IMMEDIATELY.
Lee hits Orton with a cross body early doors that seems to genuinely take the wind out of the Legend Killer. He screams at Keith, demanding his respect, and slaps three massive chops across his chest – but it serves only to hulk up Lee.
He hits his double slap to the chest, which is now called Grizzly Magnum, apparently – but is shouldered straight into the ring post by Orton, and clutches it as he hits the floor. Bad news for Keith, because Randy is on him right away, dropping him on – not through – the brother of SummerSlam’s announce table, before taking the relative rookie back into the ring for a nice little rest hold. Sorry – sleeper hold.
Lee, however, recovers to tackle Orton through the ropes before back dropping him onto the announce table as well. WWE must have finally hired someone who knows how to build them, and honestly, it’s about time.
Orton recovers quickly to hit his draping DDT on Lee back inside the ring, but takes too long to capitalise – and Lee gets back to his feet! Spirit Bomb! One, two…… three?! THREE?!
Winner: Keith Lee (6/6)
A clean win for Keith Lee against Randy Orton. CLEAN. And in what, eight minutes?! MADNESS. I never would have predicted that specific ending, but nevertheless… I’m six for six, and what a result for Keith Lee!
Dominik & Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins & Murphy
Tag Team Match
This seems like a perfect opportunity for Rey and Dominik to get some revenge for SummerSlam, where Rollins and Murphy punished them both on the way to the Monday Night Messiah stomping Dom’s nose into the mat for the win. Easy choice for me, and Murphy to take the fall from Dominik.
My prediction: The Mysterons
The match starts hot. Rey turns his back to speak to Dominik just on the opening bell, and Murphy tries a sneak attack, but Dom sees it coming, and clears out the Seth Rollins Duo. Great band name right there.
Dom continues to take it to Rollins and then Murphy when he tags in, and there’s no denying it: Dominik Mysterio’s offense is crisp and well-placed. I’m not sure exactly how long he’s been training, but he looks like he has all the tools to take over from his dad.
Papa Rey tags in and gives Rollins a bit of a hard time, but it doesn’t take long for the heels to take over the match. We have a few minutes of Rey being pummelled in the enemy corner, before he leapfrogs Rollins to send him face-first into the ring post and hits a big bulldog on Murphy that allows him to switch out to Dominik! Sadly, it’s the shortest hot tag in wrestling history, as Dom launches himself off the top rope, is caught, and splattered with a Falcon Arrow by Rollins for two.
It sets up a situation that’s pretty reminiscent of last week; Rollins and Murphy toying with Dominik inside the ring while Rey is stuck on the apron, unable to help. Dom takes some punishment for a short while before planting both Murphy and Seth into the guard rail on the outside – and tags Rey! Rey Mysterio is back!
The King is on fire, getting the closest of all nearfalls on Rollins – broken up by Murphy – and when Dom takes out Murphy, and Rollins recovers from a seated senton to flip Rey into a backbreaker, everyone is down. When they recover, fists are a-flyin until Rey attempts a springboard that Rollins counters into a sort of Codebreaker / superkick combo for two. He then decks Rey with one of those face-first powerbomb deals (I never know the name of them) for another pinfall attempt that’s broken up by Dom.
The Mysterons are in all kinds of trouble now. On the outside, father and son are introduced to the barricade the hard way, and back inside, Rollins grabs Rey, tags Murphy and instructs him to “kick him in the head.” Seth goes for the Buckle Bomb and Murphy rises to hit a scissor kick, but Rey reverses into a hurricanrana! Seth eats the buckle and the boot from his lil buddy! Rollins is down, and surely out of the match!
Rey launches Murphy into the middle rope, tags in Dominik… 619 from Dominik! He’s up top! FROG SPLASH! One! Two! THREE!!
Winners: Rey and Dominik Mysterio (7/7)
Yep, that went pretty much exactly how I expected. Good match, fractures are introduced into the Messiah’s faction, and a first ever pinfall victory in WWE for the highly impressive Dominik Mysterio. I’m loving this feud.
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt(c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
No Holds Barred Triple Threat Match for the Universal Championship
I think there’s only one thing that’s certain about this match: Braun Strowman is eating the pinfall. The only question is, who’s going to get it? I think considering that both men can be protected and that he only just won it, that Bray Wyatt’s Fiend will retain his title – but Roman Reigns will come extremely close.
The apparent stipulation here is No Holds Barred, but don’t all Triple Threat matches come with no rules? Hmm. I wonder if there’s something in that…
My prediction: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt
…I also worry that there’s something in the fact that The Fiend walks out with the blue Universal Championship rather than his custom Fiend Face one. I now think Roman is going to win. I’m not changing my prediction, but let’s face it: when Chompers inevitably takes the title, Kevin Dunn isn’t going to have him holding that other belt to close the show.
Anyway, as the Fiend enters the ring to complete his entrance, he’s attacked in the dark… it’s Braun Strowman! Strowman decks the Fiend, the bell rings, and we’re underway between just these two.
The vignettes have been teasing that Roman Reigns might not have signed the contract to compete in this fight, but I guess I just assumed that… of course he has. He said he was going to be here, why wouldn’t he? Well, so far, he’s not involved – and after Strowman fails to pin his opponent after a Running Powerslam, the Fiend hits Sister Abigail early and gets a close nearfall that could have been the end of this match!
The Fiend takes Braun to the outside and destroys him with a Uranage right through the announce table! RIP, my friend. A very quick camera shot shows… Alexa Bliss backstage! Bliss is backstage, watching and fiddling with her hair that she’s started to twist into dreadlocks, like the Fiend! Is she finally going to play into a match finish?
The Fiend grabs that comedy mallet from under the ring, but is cut off by Strowman, who simply launches an announcer’s chair into the face of Wyatt before clubbing him into the ring steps. As we’ve come to know though, it doesn’t keep the ethereal Fiend down for long, and he recovers to push Braun away before caving his ribs in with the mallet and then doing that neck-snap thing that, in the movies, usually kills a guy. Boy, these WWE superstars have strong spines.
Things aren’t looking good for Strowman. With Alexa watching on, the Fiend smashes him with the ring steps and stalks the Monster up the ramp, snapping his neck for a second time. A Roman Reigns spear from through the curtain is moments away as Braun counters to launch the Fiend into the LED boards, and both men hit the deck on the stage.
When the two recover, Braun gets the better of the striking exchange long enough to charge into the Fiend with a cross body that takes both men off the side of the stage and through what sounds like a couple of folding tables under a tarp. Michael Cole reminds us that this match is not Falls Count Anywhere as the two head back to the ring; if anything, this is very reminiscent of SummerSlam so far.
Braun, for whatever reason, decides that going to the top rope is a good idea. Naturally the Fiend corrects this mistake shortly afterwards, punching him right in the chops before heading up and hitting an impossible superplex… that destroys the ring! The ring posts have fallen, the ropes are down, referee Charles Robinson does a hilarious slow-motion flop over the top to the outside – it’s Lesnar/Big Show all over again!
Aaaand here we go. Dun-dun. Dun-dun. Reigns and Heyman emerge onto the stage; Heyman clutching the contract for this match, Reigns with a steel chair. Roman signs on the dotted line and heads for the ring, covering the Fiend… who kicks out at two! He goes for another cover on the Fiend, same result! He tries Strowman instead, who also kicks out, and I’m sorry, Big Dawg – you’re going to need to do a bit more than that.
Reigns leaves and re-enters the ring with his steel chair, which he uses to pulverise the back and arms of Braun Strowman, covering again, one, two… WOAH, kickout! Now that was close. Reigns looks stunned as the Fiend recovers to plant the Mandible Claw into his mouth, but Roman hoofs the Fiend in his ghoulish nads to send him cascading out of the ring – and when Braun gets back up, Roman crushes him with a Spear for one, two… three. Reigns wins, and my sigh can be heard from space.
Winner: Roman Reigns (7/8)
Well, that’s not going to make anyone on the internet happy. There were lots of details to this match that I guess were meant to try to swerve us away from what we all sort of knew deep in our guts. The presence of Alexa, the meaningless stipulation, the no-show of Roman to start the match, all of it was just a ploy to make us think they weren’t going to put the strap straight back on Reigns at the first opportunity.
I’m not mad that he’s champion – I actually really like Roman and I’m looking forward to him and Heyman together immensely, especially if they bill him as the new Brock Lesnar: the man who figuratively splats a pie in the face of every fan that tunes in. I’m just tired of Bray Wyatt being WWE’s main event makeweight. I very much hope he stalks and terrorises Roman for the next few months to keep him in the title picture. I also really, really hope that Big E finds himself in the mix for that belt before long – and I guess, with Roman as a horrible heel champion, that could well happen.
Can we also just quickly focus on one more thing. The strike that took The Fiend out of this match long enough for Roman to win was a boot in the goolies. Are we really suggesting an undead, demonic super-being that can control electricity and the colour of certain lights at certain times would be that seriously affected by a shoe in the danglers?
Well, that was WWE Payback 2020. A pretty predictable show all in all – I only got the main event result wrong, and even then, I knew the result the moment I saw the Fiend emerge with the blue belt.
My disappointment at having to report on yet another premature Bray Wyatt title loss overshadows what was a pretty entertaining card. I liked Big E and Sheamus, I LOVED Keith Lee’s quick, clean win over Randy Orton, I very much enjoyed the Women’s tag title match (and I can’t wait to see how the new champs handle their title defences) and the Mysterons beating Rollins and Murphy was a big, feel-good moment as well. Decent show, I’d say. I might have even enjoyed it more than SummerSlam.
Also, where the hell is Retribution? Do they not work weekends?
I’ve been Mike, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!