What you need to know
It's all about choices. Brad Maddox made a bad one when he caved to the pressure from The Shield and gave them a chance to interject themselves into Seth Rollins match with Batista in London. So he got chokeslammed. And fired.
Stephanie McMahon gave WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan a choice - vacate the titles or see his wife, Brie Bella, fired for laying hands on the Principal Owner of WWE back when Bryan was being ambulanced away following the latest attack by Kane. The champ has until this Sunday at Payback in Chicago to decide.
Her husband, Triple H, gave The Hounds of Justice a choice - sign the contract for their no holds barred elimination match at the pay-per-view (PPV) and perish, or back out now and continue to adapt into dominant forces in WWE by avoiding Evolution.
Intercontinental champion Bad News Barrett had some...well, you know, for Rob Van Dam. The man who will challenge for that belt was distracted by the champ and lost his match to Cesaro. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to remind folks that he also has a match at Payback, United States champion Sheamus had RVD's back - in the form of a post-match Brogue Kick to the Swiss Superman. Paul Heyman's guy would get the last laugh on Raw, when he Neutralized The Celtic Warrior after his victory over Alberto Del Rio, though.
Summer Rae and Layla are feuding over Fandango, and that somehow involves Eva Marie. El Torito and 3MB are feuding over...something?...and their latest encounter ended with Drew McIntyre whipping the little bull with his own tail. I don't know which is more ridiculous, but I do know which one I enjoy more.
Bray Wyatt is EVIL, you guys. You can tell because he attacks innocent announcers. And because John Cena says he doesn't believe in free will. Did this feud just become super cerebral? Before we have too much time to worry about that, The Usos did battle with Luke Harper & Erick Rowan on Main Event, and stood over the tag champs the same way their patriarch will try to when he faces Cena on Sunday - as the last man standing.
Big E is a proud American who is tired of Rusev and Lana running down our country. Bo Dallas is proud of Sin Cara's pluck, and himself, and all of his BOlievers. Adam Rose doesn't like it when Jack Swagger messes with his lemons. It's hard to tell what Damien Sandow is doing, other than losing, but this week he portrayed Davy Crockett and a hip-hop emcee while doing so.
Alicia Fox is crazy and everyone loves it, because the bar is set pretty low for Diva characterization. She also loses a lot, but has been granted a title shot against Paige for Sunday in Chicago anyway, because the bar is set equally low for Diva competition.
If you're a believer (not to be confused with a BOliever) in the "whoever stands tall on the go home show will lose at the PPV" theory, bet heavily on The Shield. Batista and Randy Orton made an example out of The Rhodes Brothers in a tag elimination match, then were with The Game for a sledgehammer-assisted decimation of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Rollins as Raw faded to black.
What to look out for
Back to our usual mostly full cast Tuesday night tapings now that we're back in the U.S. On May 27th it was Atlanta, Georgia, and spoiler can be found at this link. We here in Preview-ville are, as always, spoiler-free.
Champion vs. Champion! But with slightly less panache than when Orton and Cena did it last fall. Tonight, it's Sheamus vs. Barrett. And I'm sure their Payback opponents will stay well and truly clear of the ring to make sure it's a fair fight.
Beyond that, nothing has been announced, but I'd expect some talking segments for the big Sunday angles with The Authority/Evolution, probably The Shield and Cena & Wyatt. Probably a one of those last two guys against either a Family member or an Uso.
And I'll bet you a dollar that a member of 3MB gets pinned by a little person in a bull costume. Double or nothing that Alicia Fox does something that makes her seem mentally unstable that everyone will love.
What they should do
No, Jack. NO! Wrong costumed sidekick...
The missed opportunity there is just too depressing. I want to BOlieve.
As Payback is headed to a certain straight-edge retiree's hometown this weekend, there have been fantasy booked scenarios for weeks of who could get troll the Chicago crowd a la Paul Heyman last spring and defuse a tense situation while getting heat on themselves. Bad News Barrett was a popular suggestion. Allow me to make one more.
"I know you guys are really disappointed that your neighbor didn't make it out to the show tonight. So I just wanted to come out and remind everyone not to develop a wish bone where your back bone should be. You can lean on me and we'll get through it, if you just BOlieve."
Probably don't want him to come out to Living Colour, he's not that kind of heel. But he could sit cross legged on the ramp and just let the boos rain down on him.
Then he can hand out cookies so that we can all move on together.
What we're afraid they will do
Anything that involves Eva Marie wrestling. Or officiating.
Smackdown will endeavor to make it so you feel like you HAVE TO see Payback...can it do it?
If you're going to give it a chance, do so with your fellow Cagesiders in the open thread. And stick with cSs all weekend long for all the PPV coverage you could ever want!