The 2015 edition of WWE’s Payback took place on May 17th, at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. It boasted an attendance of 10,000, on top of 54,000 buys, down from the previous year’s 67,000. That’s excluding WWE Network views, because those don’t really count. All that matters is the nine dollars and ninety-nine cents that get taken from your bank account, month in and month out.
Look at me, coming off like I’m writing some sort of manifesto. I love the Network. That’s why I’m writing this article, at 12:00AM, on a Thursday. For $9.99, I get to relive my favorite WWE PPV of the year (other than WrestleMania 31).
The show kicked off with Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus in a rematch of their Extreme Rules, “Kiss Me Arse” match. I hated this feud with every ounce of me. Ziggler gets such a raw deal. He gets dumped into these placeholder feuds, and nothing ever really happens to him. Though, he has been World Heavyweight Champion. That’s more than a lot of people can say.
If you sit down and watch this, two things will stay your hand from raising that pistol, and blowing your brains out.
First, at some point, the commentators are talking about the “Kiss Me Arse” match, and somebody asks Michael Cole which words he prefers to use to describe butts. He picks backside, and JBL pounces, dropping this bit of hot fire – all thanks to the usage of the word “prefer.”
“How do you think Michael’s had a job for this long?”
Sick burn, JBL.
Then, towards the end of the bout, Ziggler hits a headbutt on Sheamus, and gets busted wide open. He bleeds all over the place. It’s crazy to see. Otherwise, this match can suck the hottest fart.
Sheamus won. Let’s move on.
The second match of the show was a banger. There’s no way around it. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro challenged The New Day for their WWE Tag Team Championships in a two out of three falls match.
If I were to boil this match down: it’s two of the best tag teams I’ve ever seen, taking each other to the limit. Unfortunately, the babyfaces ended up losing, thanks to some dynamite heel work from Xavier Woods, who snuck into the match, banking on the referee being unable to tell him and Kofi Kingston apart. Of course, he was totally right. The ref didn’t notice anything.
Woods came in, scored the pinfall, and then bounced, helping New Day retain their Tag Team titles.
Next up – Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback in a match that absolutely nobody cared about. When the feud started, people were bewildered as to why they should possibly give a damn. Then Bray won this match, and the whole angle ended.
Thank God. Wyatt was already on a losing streak. Another loss would not have helped, especially if it came at the hands of The Big Guy.
After that, John Cena and Rusev went almost a full half hour in an “I Quit” match for the United States Championship. When this aired originally, I remember being bored out of my mind. John Cena is the man, and I will happily fight those who disagree.
However, something about this bout simply didn’t click with me. Can’t tell you what it was, which is annoying.
Actually, it may be Lana’s presence. The finish of this match was directly responsible for the split that led to the Dolph Ziggler and Lana vs. Summer Rae and Rusev storyline. That has been some of the most painful television I’ve ever had to watch. I wasn’t happy knowing that the split was going to take place, and I’m even less happy, months later, knowing where it all ended up (Summer Rae gettin’ a couple eyes full of Dolph’s dong).
Terrible. Rusev lost this, after Cena locked him in the STF, and the Bulgarian Brute started screaming in pain, but in his native tongue. Lana, who speaks the same language, knew that he was quitting, and threw in the towel for him.
From there, it was a slippery slope, all the way down to Dolph’s donger.
The next two matches were the weakest ones of the entire show. First, it was Naomi and Tamina vs. The Bella Twins in an irrelevant tag team match. Naomi and Tamina ended up with the win, thanks to Naomi, who hit the Rearview on Nikki, and then pinned her for a three count.
After that, Neville and King Barrett went at it for a little over seven minutes, and then Barrett lost by countout. Daniel Bryan was supposed to defend his Intercontinental Championship at this event, but unfortunately, his injury had progressed to the point, that he wasn’t allowed to compete.
Not long after Payback, he vacated the title, leading to Ryback winning it at the Elimination Chamber PPV.
Finally, we’ve reached the main event of this PPV – Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton in a Fatal 4-Way for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Before Cena vs. Rollins at SummerSlam, this was the best title defense of Seth Rollins’ run as Champ. I mean, it’s the Shield and Randy Orton, all facing off. What could there possibly be to complain about?
Speaking of The Shield, I still remember getting hyped AF when Reigns, Ambrose, and Rollins teased a reunion during this bout. All four competitors were on the outside, and then, as if on the same page, the former Shield members started beating on Orton. They made sure he was down, and then called for their patented Triple Powerbomb.
Here’s the whole sequence, played out through pictures:
Right after that, Rollins caught a powerbomb into a table, but he didn’t go through.
So, how did Reigns and Ambrose counter that?
This was a really fun match. It was one of those beautiful examples of controlled chaos. All the spots moved the match closer to its finish. If one guy got taken out, it was for a reason. For instance, all these powerbombs were so that Reigns and Ambrose could be alone in the match, and then get a pop for setting aside their friendship, and duking it out over the title like a couple of real competitors.
Not long after that, the two of them were taken out of the equation, allowing for Seth Rollins to hit a Pedigree on Randy Orton, and then pin him for the three count, effectively retaining his WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Courtesy of WWE.com.