The changing of the guard in pro-wrestling is often an event that isn't recognized for its significance until years down the road. Earlier in the year some might argue the squash of The New Age Outlaws by The Shield represented the last hurrah for the Attitude Era and the cementing this generations stars. Ultimately, it was a rather inconsequential match, especially when viewed in light of the main event of "Payback 2014," a PPV that marked a downward trend from the emotional high that followed "Wrestlemania XXX." With Daniel Bryan's future uncertain due to injury, it would be a PPV with no WWE World Heavyweight Title defense; in its place, we would see a relic of a bygone era face off against one of the most exciting factions in quite some time.
Before the ultimate payoff, WWE fans were subjected to a very lackluster card, barely indistinguishable from an upper tier Raw presentation. The kickoff match of Sheamus against Cesaro for the US Title failed to deliver the quality one would expect from a veteran main event player and arguably one of the hottest commodities in the WWE today. Followed up by RybAxel vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust, an "ok" but too brief encounter, fans are hit with the one two punch of Rusev versus Big E and a pitiful no contest between Bo Dallas and Kofi Kingston. There's nothing in these matches that distinguish them from hour one Raw filler and it's only through the above average Intercontinental match up of RVD versus Bad News Barrett that fans get a reprieve before another two match exercise in tedium.
Following up on their "Wrestlemania XXX" feud, John Cena and Bray Wyatt is a complete waste of time, seeing Cena illogically go over Wyatt yet again, this time in a Last Man Standing match. What should have been Wyatt's chance to shine is little more than filler for the standard filler that follows, the Paige/Alicia Fox Divas title match. If one is able to stomach these two matches, running well over 30-minutes combined, they get to the real highlight of the evening and the night's saving grace: The Shield versus Evolution. The match defies all expectations and safe bets, offering up nearly 32 minutes of mayhem that gives Evolution their last nostalgic hurrah and firmly establishes The Shield as THE faction of the WWE a force to be reckoned with. Even in hindsight, knowing where the WWE took The Shield in terms of storytelling, it's a fantastic match with a great payoff. It's just a shame that the rest of the evening suffered from inconsistency and the expected.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer sports brilliant, rich color reproduction of the event itself. Detail levels are not as strong as something sourced from a modern HD broadcast should be, possibly due to some minor compression artifacts that seems to be the standard for WWE DVD releases (it's much better than a few years back).
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio is a solid, albeit non-mind-blowing experience. Commentary is front and center, but never mixed to overpower the sounds of the arena, nor do the mics focused on the in-ring action feel off-balance. A few matches in, and the sound isn't as immersive as being live (simply due to the constant commentary), but there's nothing to detract from the experience.
The two extras consist of Nikki Bella's response to Daniel Bryan not forfeiting his title and the shockingly enjoyable El Torito vs. Hornswoggle match that featured the classic stipulation of Mask vs. Hair.
A mediocre event on a whole, "Payback" does earn mandatory viewing status for its main event. Shockingly, it's not the worst pay-per view event the WWE has to offer in 2014 and if the scary trend of the expected and truthfully dull continue happening, it might end up being one of the middle of the road events of the year. In the end, to be fair, it was an event coming in the wake of the WWE's top star going out of action, but still, this should have been notice for everyone else involved to step up their game. Rent It.