WWE went rolling right on through the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, last night (Sun., May 1, 2016) with Payback, the first stop following WrestleMania 32. But while that show ended with a ton of uncertainty regarding the future of the promotion, this show was everything a fan could possibly want. Or at least this particular fan, you mileage may vary.
If you still think Roman Reigns is bad at his job, you are wrong. Just sit in your wrongness and be wrong. AJ Styles is one of the best big match wrestlers alive and Reigns was right there with him, putting on what truly felt like a big money main event match.
There was no chance of a title change, never at any point, but they had me buying into the idea that maybe it was going to happen with at least two heart stopping near falls. Styles, who is actually probably better suited to work heel, had a babyface fire here like a Daniel Bryan. Reigns, who has come into his own embracing his role as tweener, perfectly played off the crowd reaction he was getting all throughout the match.
What's more they overcame the ridiculous booking designed to get Shane and Stephanie over. They told a great story despite the fact that they were forced to add two chapters they didn't need, that actively hurt what they were trying to do.
That's a credit to Reigns, both for his character work and his wrestling, Styles, for once again coming through in the clutch, and the booking leading into the match for creating such an uncertain match. They may have toyed with it far too much once the bell rang, but they nailed it in the lead up to it.
Most of all? It was FUN. Somewhat heartbreaking and exhausting as all hell, but my god this was fun.
And I can't wait for the rematch.
Kill 'em all
What a stupid storyline.
Vince McMahon never wanted Shane McMahon to run Monday Night Raw, so he booked him in a match where he would go through as much pain as possible and still not ever get to run Raw. Then, for no good reason at all, he allowed him to run Raw.
Even worse? Ratings plummeted while he was running the show, to such a degree that they were forced to say it was social media support that kept him around.
Finally, Stephanie McMahon comes back to say she should be running the show for all the aforementioned reasons and also because, well, Shane kinda proved he didn't move the needle. So they set up Vince McMahon to make yet another decision that he already made and then unmade so he could make it again.
Yes, this is the dumbest thing in the world.
This leads to Vince, who is also the father of these two people, outright telling them live on the WWE Network that he would love nothing more than to see them slit each other's throats. But maybe they could create some magic together while murdering each other, so go forth and book television.
Later, they got involved in the main event, which appeared to be overbooked the way it was solely to ensure Shane and Stephanie got the chance to assert themselves as new co-authority figures. The good news is it didn't affect how good that match was. The bad news is literally everything else.
This is bad, and it's going to stay bad.
All the best to all the rest
Chicago Screwjob: I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why it is they go back to this angle. To be fair, or at least as fair as I can be, the original screwjob catapulted WWE to unheard of heights. The reason it worked so well, however, cannot be replicated. They actually screwed Bret Hart over in 1997. They got some heat on Charlotte here but it felt more like they were just trying to book to get us to the double Sharpshooter spot. That's fine, for a show like this.
Dean Ambrose def. Chris Jericho: It was a match. It was fine.
The Miz def. Cesaro: This was done really well, considering how unsatisfactory the finish was -- with special consideration for the fact that it was supposed to feel that way. Really, it never made a ton of sense for Cesaro to come in and simply win the title with everything they set up at WrestleMania and the night after. The match was fun, we still hate Miz with a fiery passion that burns deep within our souls, we still love Cesaro for not getting his when he should have, and we appear to be headed for a Fatal 4-Way at Extreme Rules. All good stuff!
Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn: An outstanding match that told a great story, namely that Zayn was willing to get just as violent as Owens because that's what he would need to do to win the match. It took an obvious toll on him, though, and KO was utterly brutal in his offense throughout the match. Even when Sami had the momentum, he just couldn't muster enough. In the end, he ran into a big boot and a pop up powerbomb that did him in. Zayn fought hard but on this night, Owens was better. Like the true ass he is, he made Byron Saxton get in the ring to ask him about it so he could brag and make clear that he's the better man. This isn't over, they just added another great chapter.
Kalisto def. Ryback: They didn't bother to do much with this coming in and then the two went out and tore the house down. THE BIG GUY absolutely lived up to his new "the pre-show stopper" belt. He was kicking out of big moves at one before getting up pissed and over committing just so Kalisto could make him pay for it with even bigger moves thanks to his speed and athleticism. Ultimately, that won out. This was really good.
Dolph Ziggler def. Baron Corbin: I won't comment on whether or not this was the right finish to make a new star (it's not) but will say that this is remarkably in line with the storytelling they used for Corbin in NXT. He always fools himself into believing he's so much better than his opponent that it doesn't matter what he does, and his opponents always make him pay for it. That's what happened again here. He can beat the lesser guys despite this, but won't move up until he addresses it. That's a good story.
I left out anything on the tag team tournament finals because there isn't anything to say other than all the best to Enzo Amore. Here's to hoping he recovers quickly and feels his best sooner rather than later.
Other than that truly awful injury and the McMahon family nonsense this was a fantastic show.
Photos via WWE.com