Going into this PPV, I had somewhat mediocre expectations. Mainly relying on Alberto Del Rio and John Cena in the main events, which at this point is beyond stale, the past year or so, WWE has put on some very average shows, trying to force average workers like Ryback, Curtis Axel, and Big E Langston down our throats. It's been a lackluster year for WWE PPV's with them reusing the same feuds we've already seen... so does Payback do anything different?
Wade Barrett vs The Miz vs Curtis Axel - Intercontinental Championship
A.J. Lee vs Kaitlyn - Diva's Championship
Dean Ambrose vs Kane - United States Championship
Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio - World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Jericho vs CM Punk
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton - Tag Team Championship
John Cena vs Ryback - 3 stages of hell for the WWE Championship
The PPV kicks off with a 3 way IC title match between defending champion, Wade Barrett and challengers Curtis Axel (the former Michael Mcgillicutty) and The Miz. While the outcome going into the match is quite obvious with Axel getting the win (originally supposed to be Fandango), the quality of the bout is still solid. The match starts out slow and builds up to an exciting finish. When I first watched this PPV, I thought Axel's win would bring some prestige back to the title and improve him as a performer, flash forward a few months... he's still the poster boy for underwhelming mediocrity.
Up next we get a surprisingly great women's match up between AJ and Kaitlyn that honestly harkens back to the days of Mickie James, Trish Stratus, and Lita quality matches. It was an entertaining match up that got good time. Up next is probably the worst match on the card... The United States title match between Dean Ambrose and Kane. Dean Ambrose is one of the best athletes the WWE has to offer and can normally get a good match out of just about anyone, Ambrose and Kane just lacked the chemistry and couldn't click this night and the match ends up falling flat, although the match concludes with the appropriate winner.
Up next we get our first main event, Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio for the World HeavyWeight Championship. Going into the match, Ziggler was on fire... he gained momentum by cashing in his money in the bank and was expected to finally have the title run he deserved. Prior to the PPV, his hot streak was abruptly halted when he was kicked in the head by Jack Swagger and got a legitimate concussion. For some reason, WWE lost faith in the most talented performer in the company because of this and he dropped the belt. As for the actual bout, the match was decently paced with Del Rio controlling the majority of it targeting Ziggler's head with some brutal looking shots to the head. In the end, the match left a sour taste in my mouth as any Ziggler's much deserved title reign came to end.
The next match up was the highly anticipated return of CM Punk to the squared circle (where he got a thunderous ovation from his hometown crowd.) He takes on Chris Jericho in easily what was match of the night, just about 5 stars out of 5 in quality. The crowd eats up everything these two did. The match is full of classic wrestling, false finishes, finishers, an amazing crowd and 2 of the best wrestlers ever. This match alone is the reason to seek out this DVD.
Up next is the match up between The Shield (Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) taking on the mismatched team of Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton for the Tag titles. For 3 of the best athletes in the WWE (and Roman Reigns), this was actually quite a disappointment. I expected a lot more from this match up. The real service this match did was further an angle between Orton and Bryan, and at the cost of what could have been an amazing wrestling match.
Lastly the main event, A 3 stages of hell match (Wrestling, Tables and Ambulance) featuring John Cena, who always brings it in big time matches, but who also is probably the most stale WWE wrestler since Hulk Hogan, taking on Ryback (or Goldberg 2.0.) Ryback is someone that should never have been where he was. Hard worker? Yes. Sucks in the ring? Yes. I'd rather watch an Ultimate Warrior match than sit through Ryback wrestling. So right off the bat I already disliked this match, however as it went on, I found myself enjoying it. Ryback stepped up his game and delivered some memorable spots, while Cena did his usual shtick, there were moments where the reason I don't like Ryback popped up (like no selling being put through a table, whereas someone like Ziggler would have sold it like he got murdered.) Complaints aside by matches end, I was pleased with their work and they put on a decent main event.
Video and Audio:
The video transfer for Payback is standard for WWE releases. While nothing groundbreaking, it certainly gets the job done for this release.
For audio The English 5.1 track was very clear. No noticeable distortions at all during the commentary or the fan chants.
- Much like the previous WWE PPV I reviewed, WWE: Summerslam 2013, where we only got 5 minutes of the excellent 15 minute bout between Dean Ambrose and RVD, once again for some reason WWE decided to skimp on the Pre-show match, Damien Sandow vs Sheamus, which was actually better in quality than half of the main card. It baffles me that they continue to do this
We only get two on disc extra's which are both pretty short... the 1st is a brief backstage segment between CM Punk and Paul Heyman, and the second extra is a video package recap of the feud between The Shield, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan.
The blu-ray edition includes the fantastic The Shield vs Team Hell No and Randy Orton matchup from the SmackDown prior to the PPV. Sadly the DVD does not.
We get some solid matches with the 3 way IC title bout, the tag match and the 2 world title matches, Payback ends up being an above average PPV with a few memorable moments and stand out matches. Every wrestling fan needs to check out the CM Punk/Y2J, which is easily a match of the year candidate. It was a special match, and for that Payback comes Recomended.