The event will be headlined by a Three Stages of Hell match for the WWE Championship in which John Cena will put his title on the line against Ryback. These two met at last month’s Extreme Rules event for the bel , only for their Last Man Standing match to end in a no contest after Ryback drove Cena and himself through the stage for the event and neither could answer a 10 count. This match will ultimately see all three stipulations – Lumberjack, Table, & Ambulance match – come into play with the end result of Cena walking out of the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL with the title firmly around his waist. In the end WWE still doesn’t know what exactly they are doing with the Ryback character and putting the WWE title isn’t going to help that.
Key matches on the undercard include Chris Jericho facing off against the returning CM Punk. As Jericho mentioned on Raw this past week this will be the third match these two have had the last being at the Extreme Rules 2012 event, which also took place in Rosemont. The title isn’t on the line this time, and Punk hasn’t made any appearances on TV since losing to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania in April. In the end, this match will be a great back and forth contest of technical wresting skill as both of the these executed in their previous two efforts, and Punk will win it. Even though Jericho has been the one on TV building up the match Punk will walk out of his hometown crowd with the win to set up what needs to be an interesting storyline with him for the summer that I can see leading to a match with Curtis Axel at SummerSlam in a battle of Paul Heyman guys, but that’s getting a little ahead of myself.
Alberto Del Rio will finally get his return match for the World Heavyweight Championship against the champ, Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler was supposed to defend the title in a triple threat ladder match against Del Rio and Jack Swagger but his concussion change that course a bit. In keeping with the name of the pay-per-view this will finally be Del Rio’s chance to get some measure of payback on the man who took the title from him in April. For Ziggler, he needs to help make that title matter and prove that there is a reason for him to be holding it. Add in the assistance of Big E Langston and AJ Lee and all signs point to Ziggler retaining. I would also expect this to be the feud that carries that title for the summer, with the occasional cameo from Swagger.
All of the members of The Shield will be in action defending their newly won gold as US Champion Dean Ambrose defends against Kane and the odd pairing of Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton will face Tag Team champs Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. In the end The Shield will remain victorious in both regards. Let’s face it they didn’t put the titles on them for The Shield to hot potato the belts in a month’s time.
The Intercontinental Championship is on the line in a Triple Threat Match pitting champion Wade Barrett against former champion The Miz and newcomer Curtis Axel. in keeping with the payback motif Barrett and The Miz will be goign back and forth in this match just enough to allow Axel (replacing the injured Fandango) to swoop in and take the title off of Barrett. Factoring into that decision will be the presence of Paul Heyman, who I’m fairly confident will make presence noticed.
The Divas division will be highlighted on this pay-per-view as Champion Kaitlin takes on her former partner and friend AJ Lee. This confrontation has been building for a while and is leading to what feels like the 9th reboot the Divas DIvision has had in the past three years. AJ will walk out of the arena with the belt, thanks in part to some from Doplh and Big E, and the audience will continue to wonder what the summer holds for the Divas division.
Sheamus takes on Damien Sandow in the pre-show match and will easily win in it to start the night off. The tradition since the beginning of these pre-shows has almost been to let the champion or the babyface get the win, and this will be no different.
Non-match wise I would expect to see something to follow up the Triple H/Vince confrontations of the past few weeks on the show to build up to something heading into SummerSlam, I just don’t quite know what yet.
Check back later in the week to see how my predictions hold up to the results, and catch WWE Payback live tomorrow night on pay-per-view.