This year, WWE Payback emanates live from Baltimore, Maryland, on the heels of WrestleMania 31 and Extreme Rules 2015. If you’re NOT a network subscriber, you can get it for free… and if you already are? Just be thankful it’s only $9.99! But who’s going to win, and what will be left of them? Read out to see what BTR staffers think…
WWE PAYBACK KICKOFF – The Ascension vs Axel & Mandow
Brian: I admit it … I’m a fan for Curtis Axel and am glad he found something, even in the short term with Axelmania running wild. I just don’t feel the same for Sandow as he continues to impersonate others. He’s very talented and can pull it over but seeing him be someone else over and over is tiresome. Not as tiresome as The Ascension though who are the road to nowhere — or in their words — the Wasteland. It doesn’t matter who wins but I’ll guess Axel and Mandow and hopefully they make it a little fun.
Michael: Let’s just be honest here: The Ascension has no chance. None. Whatsoever. Not even with their big-budget experience “Mad Max: Beyond the Wasteland (and into jobber status)” hitting the same weekend. While I’m not keen on Sandow… er, Mandow… falling back into character, I think the idea of having him team up with “Axelmania” is at least a little novel. And, also, it gives these two deserving guys a win.
Josh: I’m not mad about Mizdow becoming Mandow because I know that gimmick won’t last long. Yes the match is thrown together, but at the same it’s not like this match is on the actual PPV. You will have some good comedic moments in the match, but this will be a place holder gimmick type of match/feud until The Miz comes back from shooting his movie. I see Axel/Mandow winning the match and hopefully The Ascension doesn’t get the pink slips soon.
Justin: The Ascension are going nowhere, and the Meta Powers didn’t get hooked up to lose in their debut. At least I hope Macho Mandow and Axelmania didn’t, and I’m counting on them to dispose of the Road Warrior wannabes.
King Barrett vs. Neville
Brian: These two have excellent chemistry together as shown at the King of the Ring finals when they squared off against one another. Neville hasn’t won a lot since getting called up to the main roster but has still impressed. And I don’t think him losing here will hurt him as long as they have another strong performance.
Michael: I’m loving what they’re doing with Neville – even though he can’t get a win as of late. And putting the crown on Barrett at this point makes a lot of sense as well. Does Barrett win here to establish his reign? Does Neville take the victory to finish up this series? Not sure – but I think these guys will cross paths again soon, but for the IC Title. Coin toss says: Neville.
Josh: I thought that Barrett and Neville had one of the best matches at Extreme Rules last month and that match was on the pre-show, so I’m really looking forward to what type of match these two can have with more time. I think Neville is doing a stellar job since he’s came up to the main roster and he’s a been great addition to the mid-card scene of the WWE. I like that Bad News Barrett won the King of the Ring Tournament and with the Elimination Chamber coming soon I wouldn’t be surprised if either of these guys will be in the vacant Intercontinental Championship Chamber Match. I see King Bad News Barrett winning this match, but that won’t have any negative effects on Neville.
Justin: Neville’s star is on the rise. He didn’t go the distance with John Cena just to lose to King Barrett. I’m counting on the Man That Gravity Forgot’s Red Arrow to deliver some bad news and humble the king.
Nathan: This has been a fun little storyline/rivalry the WWE has built since Neville has joined the main roster, but with Bryan’s departure one has to think Barrett continues his streak. The King of the Ring winner won’t drop a bout this soon, and he continues on toward another possible Intercontinental title bid.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus
Brian: Yes, Ziggler is looking for some payback (what a coincidence?) with Sheamus not kissing his arse after his victory against the Celtic Warrior at Extreme Rules. WWE is using Ziggler to help get Sheamus back on track as one of their top heels and he has been fantastic, and ruthless, since he made the switch to the dark side. I’ll take Sheamus for the win as he continues his path. I wonder if Ziggler will continue his path into 80’s rocker lead with his jean jacket and eyeliner. He was wearing eyeliner on Raw right?
Michael: “Kiss me arse” – right? These guys have good chemistry, but this story has faltered in recent weeks. I’m really over whatever it is these guys are fighting about. On the other hand, both of these men – Ziggler included – are going through some much needed, much appreciated character tweaks and revisions, and I think coming out of this feud, they need to be featured in the main-event picture. Just my two cents. Anyway, Sheamus wins.
Josh: We don’t have to worry about after match shenanigans anymore. There’s no kiss my feet or ass match. I think that Sheamus and Ziggler will have a better match at Payback because they’ll have more time. Sheamus and Ziggler have been bringing a lot of aggression towards each other in the buildup towards this match. Sheamus got busted open, Ziggler didn’t win the King of the Ring. Just like with the Neville/Barrett match I see both guys in that chamber match. Sheamus has been on a roll since turning heel and with that said I’m going with Sheamus to defeat Dolph Ziggler in a very physical back and forth match.
Justin: I was wrong last month about Sheamus beating Dolph Ziggler. But WWE, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make sure that match stips mean nothing and have Ziggler kiss Sheamus’ ass, despite the Celtic Warrior doing the honors. So I’m picking Ziggler to get his payback at … uh, Payback.
Nathan: I could not care any less about this storyline. It’s ultimate filler material. The WWE seemingly loves Sheamus and they need successful heels. So, that’s my reasoning for taking him. I guess.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (2-out-of-3 Falls Match)
Brian: The New Day have won everyone over, clapping their way to the top. It’s been an incredible turn of events for the trio and they are now arguably the most entertaining act in the WWE right now. I expect great things from Cesaro and Kidd too but it’s too early for New Day to lose the titles here. I hope that they can switch out teammates after falls — Freebird rules right? — to add some fun to the contest.
Michael: This is weird – I’m actually excited (as in, legitimately looking forward to) a New Day match. Granted, they had to put the Tag Team Championship on the line to get me there… but still, it’s a start. I think it’s WAY too early to have The New Day lose the belts, but also, I said the same thing about Kidd and Cesaro last month. So let’s just assume not everything can stay the exact same way coming out of Payback, and that we get new champions by the end of this match.
Josh: I couldn’t be happier for The New Day and especially with the E:60 NXT Special that just came out I really feel that the WWE will be strapping on the rocket boosters for The New Day. The match The New Day & Kidd/Cesaro had at Extreme Rules was stellar and these two tag teams have tremendous chemistry. The Usos and The Wyatts had a stellar summer rivalry last year can New Day & Kidd/Cesaro top that? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that this match will be awesome and the fact it’s two out of three falls it makes it that match so much better. I’m going with The New Day to retain their WWE Tag Team Championship.
Justin: I want to say the Masters of the WWE Universe or the Brass Ring Club or whatever Cesaro and Kidd are calling themselves will take back their belts. But the New Day is clicking. I can’t believe I just typed that. Yes, the New Day is working. Those backstage celebrations after beating Roman Reigns and Randy Orton were gold. It’s too early to take the straps off Big E, Kofi and Xavier. Way too early.
Nathan: I love that New Day has come into their own, and they’ll walk out of Payback with the gold. This should be the Match of the Night, but I can’t see the WWE taking the gold off of New Day just yet. The tag division is heating up, and New Day is the perfect tag team to have hold the straps until the next hot duo defeat them.
United States Championship: John Cena vs Rusev (“I Quit” Match)
Brian: About three weeks, I called the finish for this match on our podcast — Cena has Rusev in the STF and Lana throws in the towel on his behalf. He never quits but is further infuriates the Ice Princess. It makes a lot of sense and then Rusev and Cena will go their separate ways. I’m still not a fan of WWE breaking up the Bulgarian Brute with his lady though. There’s still a lot they can do with them.
Michael: Again, this has been a great feud, but we know where this is going – there’s no way Cena loses. It doesn’t make storytelling sense. There’s a possibility that we have some fluky finish – I’m a believer in Fritz’s towel being thrown in idea – but the title can’t change hands here. It just won’t.
Josh: I love this feud! Yes I understand that Rusev lost two straight matches to John Cena, but that’s not a bad thing. I think Rusev is beyond the most underrated and underappreciated in performer in professional wrestling today. The John Cena US Open Challenge has been a great addition to the weekly Raw format. No matter if Lana and Rusev split I don’t think that Rusev will become Marc Mero 2.0. I think this will be a fun and very physical match and I see John Cena retaining the United States Championship.
Justin: John Cena has a whole line of rainbow-colored T-shirts that say “Never give up.” It ain’t happening. Cena all day every day. The real question is when WWE pulls the trigger on the inevitable but unnecessary Rusev-Lana breakup.
Nathan: I wish they had held off on announcing this match as it made Cena’s open challenges the past couple weeks not mean much. They had a good bout at Mania, but not so much at Extreme Rules. Cena isn’t dropping the belt yet, and this looks like a solid opportunity to split Lana and Rusev. Something happens for her to cost Rusev the match, and that their story progresses from there.
Ryback vs Bray Wyatt
Brian: Slobberknocker! Actually, this one could be bowling shoe ugly. Wham! Bam! Pow! Ugh. I just don’t expect a lot here but Bray Wyatt should get the win. No matter what, this feud is guaranteed to continue. I’m just not a fan of Ryback and his work. Do not feed this man!
Michael: It’s not going to be a classic, but I think this match is going to be better than most people are anticipating. Wyatt knows how to go in the ring, and Ryback is looking for an excuse to prove he’s still relevant. Plus, despite the size similarities, it’s really a speed vs. muscle competition (that Wyatt is a speedy little fellow). Should be physical, should be entertaining, and Bray Wyatt walks away with the victory.
Josh: Surprisingly this is the match that I’m looking forward to the most because for me this is a major match for both Ryback and Bray Wyatt. Who needs this victory more? Will this feud go past Payback? It’s one of those unique matches that on paper may seem meh at best, but I think that both guys can put on a physical, but entertaining type of match. I think that both guys will head into this match with a chip on their shoulder. I got Bray Wyatt winning this match.
Justin: Everyone’s favorite cult leader needs a win after losing to the Undertaker. You don’t get to be the “New Face of Fear” if you keep losing. Wyatt wins with a family reunion.
Nathan: Bray is the “New Face of Fear”, and no one is afraid of him. And he consistently loses. It makes no sense. I’ll pick Wyatt in the hopes the WWE puts him back in the win column, but at this point I have no faith in that happening.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Fatal 4-Way (if Rollins does not retain, Kane will be fired)
Brian: It’s the first time we see all three members of The Shield squaring off against one another with Randy Orton also included in the mix. Even though it looks like Kane may not be the Director of Operations much longer, I think he will reluctantly try to help Rollins and it will backfire. Somehow, the current champ will overcome it and steal a victory. I think Rollins keeps his title until a Summerslam showdown with Brock Lesnar.
Michael: Alright, here we go – The Shield vs Randy Orton. Well, not quite… The added stipulation of Kane being “fired” if Rollins doesn’t retain does little to make me care, but I think it will add more chaos to what has already been a chaotic title reign. He’ll end up inadvertently giving Seth Rollins the assist, and Rollins will walk out your reigning, defending WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Josh: One way or another I see Seth Rollins retaining the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I think this will be a fun a match. I see a possible Shield reunion and they set up the triple powerbomb on Orton. Ambrose turns heel on Reigns and walks away and Rollins wins the fatal four way match.
Justin: Seth Rollins retains after pinning Dean Ambrose. Jeans Ambrose may be the most over face in this match, but the “Lunatic Fringe” was added for a reason — to do the j-o-b. This sets up Ambrose’s heel turn since he “can’t win the big one.” He lost the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at WrestleMania. He lost to Cena on Raw the night after ‘Mania. He hasn’t been able to beat Rollins. Enough said. Meanwhile, Reigns is again left at the altar again.
Nathan: This seems like an unnecessary four-way match, and Rollins will come out on top. The real question is where do they take Kane and Ambrose’s respective arcs. This is another match I don’t think will be all that great. It’ll be too fragmented to be great. Rollins retains in an underwhelming main event.