Linus Report: WWE Payback, 17/05/2015

Hey, it’s WWE Payback! It’s a B-list PPV with an A-list main event!

If it’s a 2015 PPV then I’m up and watching the pre-show. You’d think I’d have learned by now but I never, ever do. There again, it means an hour of Backstage Renee, and that’s worth suffering even Booker T for.

Because they love us, they gave us TWO matches on the pre-show. Because they hate us, it was Stardust versus R-Truth, and The Ascension versus Curtis Axel & Sandow.

I’m not sure I can tell you a single thing about R-Truth versus Stardust, except that R-Truth won and no spiders were involved.

As for the tag match, Axel & Sandow were occasionally billed as the Meta Powers (which is awesome) but most often as the Mega Powers (which is less awesome). Sandow came out as Macho Mandow and Axel was a full-on Hogan, complete with dyed beard. The Ascension won a dictionary definition of “redundant”.

The show proper started with a video package asking whether Seth Rollins’s sins would catch up with him in the main event. I’m not a betting man but I’d wager no.

Hey, it’s Sheamus! He came out for the first match, against Dolph Ziggler, in a re-match from their Kiss Me Arse (I feel disgusted typing it again) match from the last show. Sheamus’s entrance video seems to be some kind of tourism video for Ireland’s beautiful coastline and churches. Given he’s a heel, shouldn’t it be full of bombs?

Ziggler looked ridiculous on the pre-show, with a stupid, stupid headband. Thankfully he didn’t wrestle in it. They had a decent match – during which Ziggler got revenge on Sheamus by rubbing his arse in Sheamus’s face – and it seemed to end a little earlier than it should have when Ziggler bust himself open by headbutting Sheamus. Man, did he bleed!

Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick and got the win, and the ring crew got to changing the blood-soaked canvas. Lovely to see some juice back on a PPV.

Backstage, Kane and Seth Rollins argued again. Fucking pay it off already! Kane said he hadn’t decided whether he would help ensure Rollins kept the title in the main event but that Rollins would find out soon enough.

Rollins said that if Kane did anything that wasn’t in his best interests, being fired would be the least of his worries. Kane laughed it off.

Hey, it’s The New Day! They came down to the ring and got cheap heat on a Baltimore Orioles player, and then tried to get the crowd to chant “New Day Rocks”, which of course failed. Interestingly, though, on the pre-show you could hear people in the crowd chanting exactly that. Cult.

Tyson Kidd & Cesaro, with Natalya, came down, and they had another great match. These teams work so well together. They can feud all year for all I care, as long as we keep getting great matches.

It was so good that the crowd started chanting “This Is Awesome!”, and Xavier Woods shouted back, “we are well aware!” Gold.

Kidd & Cesaro took the first fall when Kidd pinned Kofi Kingston, and I kinda forgot for a moment it was two out of three falls and marked out a tiny bit. The New Day took the second fall, when they hit their combination finisher on Kidd.

The New Day got the win with shenanigans when a fresh Xavier Woods rushed into the ring and pinned Cesaro with his face hidden. The referee, thinking it was Kingston, counted the pin, and that was that.

I’m happy with The New Day staying as champions but I have concerns about the finish, given it plays into the “they all look alike” nonsense that even Michael Cole fell into on Raw last week. At least the Killer Bees wore masks!

Hey, it’s Bray Wyatt! He made his slow, atmospheric entrance for his fight with The Ryback. This is a fight no-one wanted to see. No-one on their right mind, anyway. Certainly the crowd didn’t seem to care much, and they were rewarded with a so-so contest which just dragged on and on and on.

Wyatt got the win with Sister Abigail after ten very long minutes and hopefully that’s the end of that.

They showed a hype video for the next proper PPV, Money In The Bank, on June 14.

Hey, it’s Rusev! This was billed as the final battle between him and John Cena but we’ll see about that, I guess. Rusev was with Lana, who looked AMAZING in white. The crowd chanted for her and Rusev ordered her out of the ring.

John Cena came out and the crowd chanted “John Cena Sucks” because they’re a PPV crowd. And then they did a weird “test the microphone” thing and the match was ON!

Now here’s the thing. I Quit matches can be compelling viewing and they’re certainly a great way to end a feud like this, which has been all about not giving up. They’re best when they’re bloody, a visual sign on being beaten to the point of surrender, but obviously that’s not an option in the WWE of 2015.

So what they did was beat each other all around the building, using all manner of props to inflict further punishment, with referee Mike Chioda following them round to enquire if they did, indeed, quit. It didn’t work for me, but the live crowd seemed to like it and the general consensus is that it was a GOOD THING. I did like the spot where Rusev got slammed onto the pyrotechnics on the stage.

They made it back into the ring, and Rusev locked on The Accolade. This was a poisoned chalice. It stretched Cena into submission, but he passed out before he could quit. This being an I Quit match, that was problematic. Thinking on his feet, Rusev took the opportunity to remove the top rope, woke Cena up, and planned to choke him out with it.

Except that waking Cena up wasn’t a great idea because Cena fought back. He dropped Rusev and put him in the STF and wrapped the rope around his face. Rusev began screaming in Bulgarian and Lana told the ref that he was saying, “I Quit!” and the referee called for the bell.

They went almosy thirty minutes and worked really, really hard, but it was just off for me, especially the ending which had been telegraphed for weeks. Keeps Rusev strong(ish), I guess.

Backstage, The New Day celebrated retaining their titles when Byron Saxton informed them that they would defend those titles at Elimination Chamber in two weeks – in the chamber itself! They did not like this news.

Hey, it’s The Bella Twins! They came down to their ring for their match with Naomi & Tamina, the token Divas match on the card.

They had a boring match. Naomi & Tamina won when Naomi slammed Nikki Bella off the top for the pinfall. That is all.

Backstage, in the locker room, Rusev ranted at Lana as she sat quietly in a chair. He ordered her out of the room and then ranted some more, at the chair and at his own hair. Crazy man.

The announcers then said that the Intercontinental title, relinquished by Daniel Bryan on Raw, would be fought for in the Elimination Chamber!

Hey, it’s Bad News Barrett! He came out in full King regalia for his match with Neville. You’ve got to love these all-England affairs – I wonder if anyone who saw these guys (and Sheamus & Paige) working the British scene in 2007 thought they’d all make it to the big league?

So they were having a decent match, with Neville selling a knee injury to keep him slightly grounded. Barrett got a nearfall with the Winds of Change but Neville popped up to hit an enzuigiri. Neville then went up top to hit the Red Arrow but Barrett rolled out of the ring. And stayed out of the ring for the ten count.

Neville looked crestfallen to win like that, and looked even worse after Barrett rushed the ring and attacked him, laying him out. Barrett posed in the ring in his King outfit but Neville came back again and hit a German suplex, breaking the sceptre.

Neville then went up top and finally hit the Red Arrow and the crowd popped big. Odd way to end the match, but the post-match segment made up for it.

Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Seth Rollins versus Roman Reigns versus Randy Orton versus Dean Ambrose! For the WWE World Heavyweight championship!

Kane came down to the ring first, because reasons, followed by the rest of the competitors. As they were introduced, Ambrose got the biggest cheers and Reigns got the biggest boos, even more than Rollins. PPV-crowd.

As the match started, Rollins looked isolated as his opponents all turned their attention to him. Suddenly, Ambrose & Reigns were pulled out of the ring by J&J Security, and they quickly fought them off. Rollins and Orton ended up outside and Ambrose hit a topé suicida out onto them. Then, as J&J Security ran over to help Rollins, Reigns hit a huge plancha out onto everybody.

Back in the ring, Rollins and Reigns went at it, before Ambrose came back in and he & Reigns worked over Rollins together. Reigns cocked his fist for the Superman punch but Kane yanked him out of the ring. Ambrose attacked Kane on the outside but Kane threw him into the barriers. He then joined J&J Security in their attack on Orton, his decision made for all the world to see.

Rollins worked Ambrose over in the ring but Ambrose hit the rebound clothesline and got Rollins set up for Dirty Deeds. Kane ran in and took Ambrose out, and the match is just a farce now, isn’t it?

Anyway, Orton attacked Kane, and then took down Rollins, and finally clotheslined Ambrose out of the ring. He then hit a t-bone suplex on Rollins for a nearfall.

Because outside is where the action is, Orton took Rollins to the floor and cleared the announce table. Ambrose cut him off, and then Reigns & Rollins joined in to re-unite The Shield. They even hit The Shield powerbomb on Orton, driving him through the announce table. The crowd did not know what to make of that.

Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose all smiled until Rollins realised he was the only one left smiling and Reigns & Ambrose beat him down. Shield re-union OVER. Ambrose helped Reigns get Rollins up for a powerbomb through the Spanish announce table, but Kane cut it off. They teamed to beat down Kane, too, and lay Rollins on the SAT before twice powerbombing Kane onto Rollins until the table broke. Pretty cool.

Ambrose and Reigns then deicded to go at it, with Reigns declaring that the loser buys the beers, and they went back and forth with punches, the crowd cheering for Ambrose and booing for Reigns. They trade nearfalls and Reigns almost had the match won with a spear but Rollins appeared out of nowhere to break up the fall.

Rollins and Ambrose fought some more and then Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds, but Kane pulled him out of the ring before the ref could count three. Kane then took out both Ambrose and Reigns before Orton recovered to run him into the ring post.

Orton and Rollins then went at it in the ring, and Orton hit RKOs on Mercury and Noble before hitting the draping DDT on Rollins. He called for the finish but Kane ran in (again) and he got the RKO, instead. Rollins then hit Orton with the Pedigree for the win.

Rollins celebrated with HHH on the ramp as Jerry Lawler sarcastically suggested this was “best for business”…

This was a Good Show. The in-ring (mostly) delivered, and there were some outstanding spots that will make the Payback highlight reel one of the best of the year. However, some of the finishes left me empty, and the amount of interference in the main event from Kane and J&J Security almost tipped the heat they were getting over into Fuck You heat. Nobody pays money to see heels win with that much help – all it does it make your babyfaces look stupid. Still, it’s just one chapter in an ongoing story that, for the moment, is delivering the goods.

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