WWE went rolling right on through the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, last night (Sun., June 16, 2013) with Payback, featuring John Cena defeating Ryback to retain the WWE championship, CM Punk returning to a hero's ovation before beating Chris Jericho, and The Shield continuing to win, win, win.
Click here to check out the live blog.
Let's not waste any more time with pleasantries and get right to reactions to the show:
- Let's start with the highlight of the show, the double turn we saw in the Alberto Del Rio world heavyweight title win over Dolph Ziggler. It should be noted right away that the reaction I saw on this on Twitter leads me to believe pro wrestling fans no longer have any fucking clue how to actually watch pro wrestling. You should not ever be left asking yourself "well isn't he the babyface, though?" Your job as a fan isn't to wonder why a booking decision was made based on a wrestler's current character arc, it's to digest it as it is happening and draw your conclusions accordingly. You aren't supposed to wonder why Del Rio is acting like a heel when he's a babyface. You're supposed to be turning on him because he's turning to the side of bad. THIS is the prime example of the problem with smark fandom and why it's still a good thing to be a mark sometimes.
- Smark response to that match: "Del Rio going after Dolph's concussion? Man, that's a typical WWE babyface for you. They don't even care about safety of the performers. Who is booking this crap? They took the title off Ziggler already? This company sucks, IWC 4 Lyfe."
- Mark response to that match: "Del Rio going after Dolph's concussion? That's not cool. Holy shit, he kicked him in the head while the doctor was checking on him, what a dick. Screw this guy, come on, Ziggler. YES! He kicked out! Come on, Dolph, you can beat this douche. Gah, he lost, but the other dude is a knob for doing it that way and Ziggler is all heart. "
- Last note on the match: I've seen some suggest they think Del Rio is still babyface with the promo afterward and I didn't get that sense at all. He's playing more like a heel who thinks the fans should be cheering for him because he's better, not even realizing that what he did to get what he's got, the world heavyweight championship, was wrong. To me, this is even better and makes for a far more compelling version of Del Rio than we were getting as the ridiculously bland good guy who simply wasn't connecting with anyone.
- CM Punk's return surprised me insomuch as I still don't agree with the way it was done. I just didn't think they would announce his return the way they did or build to the match the way they did or even have the match at all. Punk vs. Jericho because they work well together? That might as well have been the explanation for the match because there really wasn't one in storyline.
- Still, the match was good by the time it was over. I stand by my statement that it was far sloppier than I would have liked, but as some have pointed out to me, that's a typical Punk match and they were also trying to play up the fact that he's dealing with "ring rust." The hot crowd made up for all the mistakes anyway, no different than his match with John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. That was one of the greatest WWE matches of all time but it was littered with mistakes and technically lacking in various ways. Again, though, highly enjoyable by the time it was over.
- Anyone else see the seeds of dissension being planted between Punk and Heyman? Anyone else hoping it means Punk vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam? I really want that match.
- I'm on the Dean Ambrose train, riding until I have a reason to jump off, but let's stop and admit that the match he put together with Kane last night was about as forgettable as a mid-card bout on an episode of TNA Impact. Not kidding either. It wasn't god awful but it wasn't hardly worth any PPV dollars and that finish was one of the worst I've seen in some time.
- Really enjoyed Kaitlyn and AJ Lee and the match they were able to put together when given the proper amount of time to do so. Not all the ladies in WWE can work like this but I reckon they can do much more than what we've seen from them simply because we haven't seen that much from them. The psychology was good, the work was solid relative to expectations, and AJ has become quite the saleslady since she's been hooked up with Ziggler. Kaitlyn was even believable after the match when she broke down. This was well done all around.
- Loved the Chicago crowd randomly booing Layla coming out to check on Kaitlyn, who had broken down in tears in the aisle. Stay classy, Windy City.
- Really, really surprised at how much I liked the triple threat Intercontinental championship match, which featured a finish that was basically the exact opposite of the bullshit we got in the Ambrose vs. Kane match. When dealing with a triple threat there is always that added element of needing to unnecessarily involve -- or not involve -- one of the three people in the match. But I didn't expect these three to do such a good job with keeping it free flowing, fluid, and smartly executed. Having Axel pick his spot and sneak in to steal the title by pinning Barrett after he had spent significant time in the Figure Four while Miz scrambled to unhook his legs but couldn't do so in time was brilliant. The crowd loved it and Axel is still undefeated. It's matches like this that help so much in getting a guy over and while I still don't see the upside in Axel and think he's probably headed for a fall sooner rather than later, this was highly enjoyable.
- John Cena flying through the air onto all those lumberjacks was a legitimately cool moment that was treated appropriately by all involved, including the awesome crowd. It was fun, really. It was downright cool to watch and dislike for Cena's character and the way he's presented to us should not get in the way of admitting when he does something fun like this. That was just straight up fun.
- I wasn't blown away by the main event but I didn't hate it. Again, Ryback has taken major strides since breaking back onto the scene looking like a roided up RVD. He never looks like he doesn't belong anymore and his work is greatly improving in the ring. Or at least I don't worry about the safety of his opponents so much anymore. I now eagerly await Cagesider Asterisk's response to this.
- Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns were forced to hurry their entrances and go home quicker than they were meant to in their match WHILE being sandwiched between Punk vs. Jericho and the main event and STILL managed to put together a damn fine match that everyone enjoyed. They were literally put in a cool down slot and got the damn thing over anyway. That's talent, y'all. Hell, that's absurd on a level we can't even really comprehend right now because these guys are working at a level a cut above the rest. Bryan is out of his mind right now, Orton looks interesting again because of his part in all this, Rollins is quickly becoming the star of The Shield, and Reigns is managing not to get left behind. There are no complaints to be had here.
- Sheamus put on a good match with Damien Sandow. He did. That's that. Moving on.
This was a damn good show with plenty of good wrestling and lots of storyline advancement. I loved it.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on the show. How did you feel about it?