Were it not for the advertised return of CM Punk, I think WWE would have a hard time selling their Payback PPV. I hate to be a Negative Nelly (please forgive the strong language) but casting a glance over the card, I fear we’re in for a very predictable evening with the victors of most bout being very transparent indeed.
Sure, there are a couple of matches on the card that are sure to throw up some wholsesome wrestling action (the 3 stages of Hell match and the tag title match most obviously), but I think the majority of wrestling fans can lend themselves to the spectacle and get more engrossed when the outcome isn’t so obvious. It’s a bit like watching a movie but already knowing the ending, you catch my drift?
But alas, we are being served up a big bowl of intrigue-flavoured ice-cream with the return of CM Punk – in his hometown no less. I’m not entirely convinced that Punk v Jericho will deliver a regular wrestling match though, but more on that later. My thoughts and predictions lie below.
Read on. I dare you…
PRE-SHOW: Sheamus vs Damien Sandow
This is a feud that’s been getting a fair amount of TV time of late, so it’s a tad unfortunate for the fellas involved that they find themselves relegated to the pre-show. Such a spot is usually reserved for matches that are thrown together seemingly randomly. Ho-hum.
Sandow and not been presented as Sheamus’ equal at all, so a win for him would be considered a bit of an upset. If truth be told, a loss would do Sheamus no harm, whilst a win for Sandow would be a huge step in the right direction for him (ie up the card). He’s a major talent and I sincerely believe he can and will be a top heel in the WWE for the next few years.
But his ascent doesn’t start here. I’m going with a babyface victory to put smiley faces on the kiddies in attendance before the PPV kicks off for real. That’s the point of this pre-show brawls after all.
US TITLE: Kane vs Dean Ambrose
There’s no way that any member of The Shield is gonna lose their shiny new belt just a month into their respective reigns.
There’s always the chance that Kane could win by DQ, but I’m more leaning towards an Ambrose win via an assist from his Shield buddies. They’re all such best friends.
The US Title has started to look really ugly to me of late incidentally. It’s difficult for Ambrose to look tough when it seems like he’s holding a “blinged up” women’s fashion belt on his shoulder. It contrasts badly with his black combat gear… And looks like something that Dolly Parton might wear. Tone it down, WWE!
Pick: Dean Ambrose
DIVA’s TITLE: AJ vs Kaitlyn
Wow – a Diva’s Title match with a genuine storyline behind it that’s been given time on RAW and everything! What planet are we living on again?!
I think most people expected Ziggler’s trio of himself, AJ and Big-E to all hold gold simultaneously in some shape or form before the concussion struck. But now it seems the IC Title and US Title are too busy to hang out with Big E, so he may well find himself as the only one of the trio with no title come the end of this PPV. Poor little Langston.
I don’t think it would be too much of an upset if Kaitlyn were to retain. AJ has gotten the best of Kaitlyn in the feud so far – plus the roster is a little thin on babyface champs at the mo (just Cena and Kaitlyn – the IC, US, Heavyweight and Tag Titles are all in the possession of dastardly heels).
But seeing as AJ is getting a lot of TV time at the mo, and Kaitlyn looks a bit like a low-class prostitute, my pick is gonna be AJ.
I love AJ’s new submission finisher by the way. It looks freakishly difficult to execute and painful as hell… But if she ever wants to come around to my house and apply that move to me whilst we listen to some Prince, I’m all for it.
IC TITLE: Curtis Axel vs Wade Barrett vs The Miz
It’s a mighty shame that Fandango has joined the WWE injury list as he’s been getting over with great gusto ever since Wrestlemania – and he surely would have been a shoo-in to bag the IC strap here had he been healthy. Concussions are somewhat of an epidemic in WWE at the mo, but I wish Fandango (and Tamina Snuka) a speedy recovery. Brain injuries are no laughing matter, folks.
Wade Barrett’s IC run has been so stupid and pointless. He’s a decent performer and an entertaining character, so I simply can’t fathom why WWE puts the IC title on him and then books him to lose on TV virtually every week. It’s so daft and illogical that it makes me think RAW is sometimes booked by flipping a coin.
I wrote in my column last week how I was concerned that Curtis Axel was being pushed up the card to fast. He’s the obvious victor here, and I think it’s wise to establish himself in the midcard before he feuds with HHH, Cena and the like with regularity.
Mr Perfect was of course one of the greatest and most memorable IC champions of all time, and with Curtis Axel holding the belt, it will give WWE good reason to constantly allude to his father’s reign – which I greatly welcome with arms aloft.
Pick: Curtis Axel
TAG TITLES: Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton vs The Shield
Replacing Kane with Randy Orton is a cheap trick to slightly tweak a match that we’ve seen several times already in the last few weeks – but these guys always deliver a fantastic performance, so I’m not complaining.
Daniel Bryan is unquestionably the hottest property in WWE right now. His red hot streak reminds me of Eddie Guerrero’s historic run in 2003/2004 that culminated in him winning the WWE Title from Brock Lesnar. The crowd reactions for Eddie then and for Bryan now are simply off the scale.
Beyond Payback, WWE needs to pull Daniel Bryan from the tag division as soon as possible and have him headlining PPVs. Putting him elsewhere on the card is just daft booking. He’s surely the favourite to win the MITB briefcase at next month’s PPV and, even if he doesn’t, I think it would be a very safe bet indeed to say he will be involved in the Summerslam main event battling either John Cena or Dolph Ziggler for their respective titles.
But back to my prediction, this match will of course be won by The Shield. A Randy Orton heel turn doesn’t seem obvious at this juncture – but I certainly wouldn’t write it off. Never trust a man with sleeve tattoos. Unless he’s offering you free candy.
Pick: The Shield
Chris Jericho vs CM Punk
Without a doubt it’s the most intriguing match-up on the card – but intriguing in the fact that we’re all wondering if CM Punk will even turn up!
I think he has to. WWE simply can’t promote a PPV that promises the return of one of their biggest draws only for it not to happen. That would just be PR suicide.
Whether Punk wrestles or not is a different thing altogether though. I can envision Punk coming out and cutting a promo saying he’ll return on his own terms – not because Jericho has called him out. Then he proceeds to leave the ring, and the arena, and lose by countout or something – with Heyman trying to convince him to stay and fight all the while.
It’s just one theory to add to a mountain of others that I’ve read this week – but one thing for sure is that we shouldn’t be expecting a straightforward match here. I’m almost positive that the WWE creative team has something juicy up its sleeve, and a big storyline is gonna start here.
Pick: Chris Jericho (via forfeit or count-out or whatever)
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE: Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio
The era of Ziggler as heavyweight champion has kicked off horribly with him being sidelined for the last few weeks with a Swagger-induced concussion. It was terrible timing, and I’m sure he’s been frustrated as hell by having to sit on the sidelines and not bathe in the champion spotlight that’s he’s so commendably earned over the last couple of years.
But he’s now been given the all clear, so let’s all hope the concussion is well in the past and The Show Off is able to resume showing off to the best of awesome ability.
Ziggler retains here. He has to. It’s his time to shine. I’m so confident of the fact that I can write about this match without even mentioning his opponent.
Pick: Dolph Ziggler
WWE TITLE: Super Cena vs Ryback
I had an outlandish theory last month that Ryback would emerge from Extreme Rules as the WWE Champion… But of course, I was proven wrong and the Last Man Standing match with Cena ended in a dire no-finish decision. Lesson learned. NEVER bet against Super Cena.
If WWE was gonna put the title on Ryback, they would have done it last month. There’s no way it’s going to happen here. With Summerslam on the horizon, WWE will be looking to prep a new feud for their poster boy in the build up to what is traditionally viewed as one of their “big four”.
I’ll go with Ryback to score the first pinfall – to raise expectations that we’re gonna see a new champ… Then Super Cena will make his comeback and win the next two stipulations. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
Could Ryback really go a whole 12 months without winning on PPV? It’s becoming more and more likely!
Pick: Super Cena
Those are my picks, jabronis – please add your own below. I love it when you do… Although I have a feeling that the majority of fans’ predictions are going to be very similar indeed.
WWE is allowed a PPV lull once in a while, and whilst Payback could yet prove me wrong and fully deliver, I’m already salivating far more over the Money in the Bank and Summerslam PPVs that are on the horizon. Somebody get me a bib.
Over and out.