This Sunday brings us WWE Payback. While the pieces have been in motion since Wrestlemania 30, this special-event looks to be the culmination of numerous multi-month feuds. So who’s going to win? Read on for Between The Ropes staff predictions from Brian Fritz, Steve Muehlhausen, Michael Wiseman, Josh Lopez, and James Borbath. And be sure to catch the latest Flagship Show for even more in-depth analysis.
No-Holds-Barred Elimination Match: The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, & Seth Rollins) vs. Evolution (Triple H, Randy Orton, & Batista)
Brian: This is easily the most anticipated match for the show and the one feud WWE has done a great job in building as of late. The Shield should win this match and the feud coming to an end either here or shortly thereafter. The question would be how exactly does this get booked, especially being an elimination match. If they want Roman Reigns to really take the next step, I’d have left be the only man left on his team and beat all three members of Evolution. Then he could possibly feud with either Randy Orton or Triple H for the summer while still keeping the group together.
Steve: The main event of the show has a lot of intrigue. This is the rematch from last month’s Extreme Rules, with The Shield emerging victorious with Roman Reigns pinning Batista. It would make sense for The Shield to win here, but the way this match has been building, I would expect it to be 3 on 1 with Evolution against Reigns. I think Reigns beats Batista and Orton, but Triple H will get the victory.
Michael: This feud ends here. I’m not saying we wont see a 1-on-1 contest between Roman Reigns and Triple H, or even an Ambrose/Orton pairing. But the timing feels right to see these two teams duke it out in one epic, final confrontation. Popular consensus is that The Shield (the younger upstart team) walks away here with the win, and the momentum. I think, however, that the much maligned Evolution (with three guys who haven’t won since January) come away victorious. This puts Orton and Batista in the tag-team title hunt, and starts the slow breakup of The Shield. And that’s okay. After all their recent victories, The Shield can afford a loss.
Josh: I’m very excited to see this match. This could go all over the place with a number of different situations. I do see one point of the match where Evolution will have the upperhand on The Shield, but in the end I feel that Roman Regins will prevail and put an end to Evolution. I’m going with The Shield in this match.
James: The Shield will win and I expect that victory to feature Roman Reigns fighting the odds. The thinking is we are building towards a Reigns vs Triple H match at Summerslam. If that is the case he needs to come out of this match looking very strong. I could even see them having him eliminate all three members of Evolution. I expect the last to be Batista and doing it in the face of Triple H. Something spectacular that is the reason Batista goes bye-bye. A spot with steel steps or something along those lines.
Last Man Standing Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Brian: No matter the outcome, it’s time for this feud to come to an end. It’s been going on since before WrestleMania and loses stream week after week. Sooner or later, you would think that Wyatt has to get a win so I think he gets it here but it comes from a lot of help with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper.
Steve: This feud has to end on Sunday. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. It has started to drag as this is the third straight month the match is happening. I see the match playing out like it did last month, but with less interference. Wyatt has to look strong and he NEEDS to get the victory. I think he gets the victory on Sunday.
Michael: John Cena wins. Unless they’re turning John Cena heel (they won’t), or they’re planning a hot angle afterwards (they aren’t), I don’t see a scenario where John Cena walks away with a loss. Especially in a ‘Last Man Standing’ match… and especially with Cena’s preacher man speech from Raw. But how WWE handles the loss is key to where Wyatt goes from here.
Josh: Why can’t Wyatt win? I mean I know business hasn’t been good recently, but that’s not a good excuse to have Cena win another Last Man Standing Match. If the WWE really believes that Wyatt is going to be one of their top tier star in the company there is no reason why he should lose the match. With that I’ve enjoyed the feud with Cena/Wyatt it’s one of the original feuds that been on WWE programming over the years and I’m going Bray Wyatt to walk out of Chicago as the Last Man Standing.
James: I believe in Bray Wyatt. He speaks the truth and I want to see him win. That seems less than likely however. This we would have to assume is the blow-off to the feud? I suppose we could go to an “I Quit Match” but I don’t see that. If the feud is ending so is Bray’s chances at victory. If Bray wins this feud is not over would be the clear indication to me.
United States Championship: Sheamus vs. Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman)
Brian: This should be a very strong match right behind the main event. Even though Sheamus won the championship not too long ago, I think his title reign is coming to an end. It makes sense with him selling a head injury on Raw and going into the match “injured” which gives him a good excuse for losing. Plus, Cesaro is very much on the rise right now.
Steve: After the main event, this should be the best match on the show. It could even exceed the main event. I like how they are doing the slow build with Cesaro and it is time to give him a secondary title to continue that. You would think WWE will play off the head injury with Sheamus from Raw. I think that will factor into the match and cause Sheamus to lose the title and Cesaro is your new United States Champion.
Michael: This match has show-stealing potential. Sheamus has been in quite a funk since returning at the Rumble, while Cesaro, on the other hand, finally has some traction under his feet. I think Sheamus wins here only because his title reign is so fresh. But I don’t think this feud ends here, and I don’t think it spells doom for Cesaro. Think of it this way: if Cesaro is going to win Money in the Bank, why would he need the US Championship?
Josh: This match will probably steal the show on Sunday. Cesaro and Sheamus have had great matches with each other ever since Cesaro was the United States Champion in 2012. This is going to be a fun old school type wrestling match, so with that I’m going with Sheamus to retain the United States Championship and I don’t feel losing the match at Sunday will affect Cesaro.
James: Remember when Cesaro according to a script that made it’s way to the internet was suppose to be the Intercontinental Champion. Well I think this is the make good on that and Sheamus was just a transitional champion to get the belt here. Rumours are around that Sheamus will join Evolution after Batista goes off to promote his movie. It all kind of makes sense. I call this short feud the “Code of Honor” feud with all this shaking and non-shaking of hands.
Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam
Brian: Wade Barrett’s stock has been on the rise since the Raw after WrestleMania when he finally returned to the ring. He’s used his great verbal skills to get over the “Bad News” gimmick and really make something of it and the WWE has noticed. I think he retains the title and will continue to rise up the ladder with bigger things coming by the end of the year.
Steve: It is great to see Wade Barrett get this opportunity. It seemed like he was going to flounder, but is making the most of the “Bad News” gimmick. I’m still baffled that Van Dam is getting this opportunity as I would have had Dolph Ziggler win the “Beat the Clock” to get this match. Just seems like Van Dam is here to put guys over and this will continue on Sunday.
Michael: Wade Barret. He’s (finally) hot, great on the stick, his matches are consistently entertaining, and there’s long-term value in keeping Barrett relevant. Rob Van Dam is a (popular) part-timer who has struggled to find direction since returning mid-2013. A solid victory here enhances Barrett’s resume, and keeps that #BNB momentum-train rolling.
Josh: This is one of the matches that I’m really looking forward to. I think the Bad News Barrett character gets better week by week and as slowly as they’re trying to make the IC title important again I feel the pairings like this match will help that cause. I wonder what they’re going to do with Rob Van Dam after Payback?? I’m going with Bad News Barrett to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
James: BNB is greater than RVD. I hate to be so brutal about it, but Rob Van Dam is not booked as any threat to anything in the WWE since returning from that company that invented the beard and bad angles. There is also rumours that Vince himself is the guy behind the Bad News gimmick. RVD I got some BAD NEWS FOR YOU! You will not win but it is going be 4:20 somewhere within the hour.
Divas Championship: Paige vs. Alicia Fox
Brian: Alicia Fox has become not only the most interesting diva but one of the more interesting characters in the WWE with her wild freakouts. She has broken out of the pack but I just can’t see her taking the championship from Paige just yet.
Steve: Am I the only one who is digging the Alicia Fox character the last few weeks. She is more over in the last three weeks than she has her entire WWE career. It was interesting that Fox pinned Paige a few weeks back. That would make one think that Paige will get her revenge on Sunday. I’m going to go with Paige to retain in what should be a good match.
Michael: I can’t believe I’m saying this… but I think Alicia Fox has a shot. Not that I think WWE should pull the belt off Paige yet. But, it’s obvious Vince McMahon (or creative, or whoever you want to blame) has a soft-spot for Fox’s temper-tantrum antics. And while Paige has been being featured less each week, Fox continues to be featured more. Hopefully I’m wrong. We’ll see.
Josh: This is a feud that has caught me off guard, but I like it. I like the way Alicia Fox has been maximizing her time on television over the last month. These two had entertaining matches in the past and this Sunday should be no different. I’m going with Paige to retain the Divas Championship, but I’m not opposed with these two continuing to feud after Payback with AJ Lee random disappearance.
James: This match serves as proof of how fickle we all can be as fans. Paige was the girl that everyone that was a “hardcore fan” couldn’t wait to arrive on the main roster. She is here and some horrible booking and fans are ready to cast her aside for the flavour of the month Alicia Fox. That seems backwards given that Fox is the veteran of many years in the WWE. She has got more over in the last three weeks than she has in the last three years. Heck in her entire career in WWE which includes being a Champion. I think WWE will press the panic button and flip the title to Fox with A.J Lee not returning anytime soon. Maybe when Lee does finally resurface a three-way feud with these three would be a lot of fun.
Daniel Bryan Will Choose to Vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, or Brie Gets Fired
Brian: I could see this going a variety of ways with Bryan even being stripped and chasing the title again. But I wouldn’t do that and think it would be much better to keep the title on Bryan and maybe quitting. She has admitted that she has some “baby fever” so maybe she takes some time off to grow the family.
Steve: The only way Bryan vacates the title is if the neck injury is worse than we are led to believe. From what we have seen, you would think Bryan will be ready for Money in the Bank at the end of June, or Battleground in July. I think Bryan doesn’t vacate the title and Brie Bella ends up quitting.
Michael: Bryan doesn’t vacate. Maybe Brie steps in and falls on the knife for her husband? I still see potential for an interim champion crowned at Money In The Bank next month, with an eventual title-vs-title match at Battleground or SummerSlam. But I don’t think things will play out very nicely for the Bryan family come Sunday.
Josh: While it’s going to be nice to see Daniel Bryan and Stephanie McMahon at Payback this is going to be the third time in a row where the Daniel Bryan and Authority storyline has been on a Chicago show and it’s getting to be tiring. I feel bad for all the things that’s been going on with Bryan in his personal life. With that saying I believe they should strip Daniel Bryan out of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship there needs to be an active champion sorry Daniel Bryan fans.
James: I assume Bryan will keep the belts. I look at it like this is better to get your wife fired or turn her into a heel with WWE Universe. I don’t have a wife, but still you can get another job but being booed by WWE fans can last a lifetime.
Big E vs. Rusev
Brian: Rusev smash! This shouldn’t take too long and Big E will basically be a sacrificial lamb here. It’s funny that not too long ago it looked like Big E was quickly moving into a bigger role and now he’s just a guy on the roster. But no one is stopping Rusev right now and he will steamroll through this match.
Steve: I may be the only one who likes this match. This should be the best match of Rusev’s young career. It seems like WWE has given up on Big E for one reason or another. The company is building Rusev and that continues on Sunday. Yes, the match will last more than three minutes.
Michael: Big Man vs Big Man… again. And I think the pairing here is completely off. WWE is trying to push both of these guys to the moon, so giving either one of them a loss makes little sense. It’s also worth noting that Big E’s momentum has cooled quite a bit since gaining (and losing) the Intercontinental Championship, while Rusev continues to be featured on every major WWE show. So Rusev wins and the pro-Russia promos continue. As for Big E? Maybe three is enough.
Josh: Alrighty time to put another name on the Bulgarian Brute hit list. I think these two can have a decent 5 minute match with the contrast of their size. Big E is a stalworth I’m a Big E fan and wish him the best in his future. I think Rusev is just completely unstoppable right now and Lana has added a lot for his character, but I’m wondering before SummerSlam where will Rusev have his first feud?. I’m going with Rusev to pick up an impressive victory over the former Intercontinental Champion.
James: So is this a last resort to get Big E over at this point? We have tried everything else just have him wave the U.S flag and that will get him over? As a Canadian, that has watched wrestling for more than 25 years or more, I know that there is nothing American fans love better than a good U-S-A Chant. As a man I know that males love a hot Russian babe with legs. Seems to early for Rusev to take a loss and have Putian deport him from Russia back to Bulgaria.
Pre-Game Kickoff Hair vs Mask Match: Hornswaggle vs El Torito
Brian: Please make this quick! Torito wins and we lose for watching.
Steve: Once again this is the kickoff match and I don’t know why. You could put anyone else in this match and the fans would be satisfied. Hopefully this is short and not very painful to watch. Going with El Torito.
Michael: I predict… this will be a major blemish for professional wrestling fans everywhere. Go watch hockey instead of this garbage.
Josh: I’m in the minority here I actually enjoyed the WeeLC Match at Extreme Rules, with that this feud has went too long in my opinion. Good thing that this match is on the pre-show hopefully this feud will be over after sunday. I see Hornswoggle getting his head shaved bald, so I’m going with El Torito to win this match.
James: I see a bald Hornswaggle and a match that Brian Fritz that wants no part of watching this match. At least it is on the pre-show and for those that like this sort of thing they can tune in early.