WWE 'Payback' Preview: Wade Barrett vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel

via WWE.com

An injury caused a last-minute change to the make-up of this triple threat, but whoever's involved, it will be a challenge for Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett to retain his belt this Sunday when he faces two men on pay-per-view (PPV)!

Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat

Wade Barrett (c) vs. Curtis Axel vs. The Miz

A concussion to rising star Fandango clears an opening on the IC title's dance card. Enter the newest Paul Heyman guy, Curtis Axel, to tango with reigning champion Wade Barrett and the man he defeated for the belt, The Miz, in a triple threat!

The Road to Payback

The current champ and the multi-media personality have tangled over the white and gold belt for much of the past season. Miz even managed to end Barrett's previous stint with the title on the pre-show to WrestleMania 29. But his own time as champ would prove to be excruciatingly short, when the leader of the Barrage took him out the following night on Raw.

The two have remained on each other's radar in the months since the Granddaddy of Them All. But until just this past week, it seemed that they would have to deal with a different newcomer on PPV from Chicago-land.

In May, Wade and Fandango were paired up for a tag match against Chris Jericho and the awesome one. But when the man who defeated Jericho at 'Mania chose to dance at ringside rather than face Y2J again, Barrett was hung out to dry. Miz ended up submitting the champ with his inherited figure-four finisher.

The former Nexus leader warned the hoofer to never cross his path again, but later on the same episode of Smackdown, Fandango's interference gave Miz a disqualification victory over Barrett. The British brawler took out his frustrations on both men after the bell, and the Payback match seemed set.

But the wrestling gods had other plans, and when Fandango's injury prohibited him from competing on Sunday, Vickie Guerrero instated the son of legendary Intercontinental champion Mr Perfect, Curt Hennig into the triple threat match.

Curtis Axel has been on an impressive tear since being reintroduced to the WWE Universe by Paul Heyman several weeks ago. While the means have not always been decisive, he has achieved wins over HHH, John Cena and Chris Jericho in just a month's time.

Given his lineage, the IC strap seems like part of his heritage. But neither Barrett or Miz is going to just step aside and let him take it. Perhaps he's cagey enough to let their bad blood and the triple threat format provide an opening for his first singles title?

What's at stake?

Miz wants to prove that his one-day run with the belt was an aberration. In order to put together a respectable reign, you first have to win the title. A victory on June 16th would prove that he's more than just the host of the most must see talk show in WWE history, and just maybe put him back on course for the heights he once reached as WWE champion and WrestleMania headliner.

The winner of inaugural NXT competition has been a little lost since his 2012 return, even with a championship wrapped around his waist. Fandango had taken much of the spotlight in this feud - will the absence of the flamboyant one allow Wade Barrett to rise to the top of the scene?

Axel's record may look good on paper, but he hasn't had much of a chance to win matches on his own merits. Having recently embraced his family history, this is a big opportunity to prove himself worthy of it. If he can, he just might be able to bring some prestige back to the title that his father once perfectly personified.

Anything can happen in a triple threat...will the champ be able to hold off both competitors, or will the Intercontinental championship have a new name listed under it in the record books when Payback is finished?

Cageside Seats is the place to come for the answer to that and all the questions WWE is likely to ask and answer on Sunday night!

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