OK, so Extreme Rules is in the bag and we're on to the next show, Payback. I did a lot better with my predictions this time. I was a putrid 2 for 8 with my WrestleMania picks, but I went 5 for 7 here. My two misses were picking Big E to retain the Intercontinental Title against Wade Barrett and picking the six man tag match to end in a non finish of some kind. Instead we got a new champ in Barrett and a decisive finish in the tag team match, and if I'd known about the news with Batista I would have definitely made a different pick. I thought it was a good show all in all. Match by match, here's how I saw it:
- Triple Threat Match: Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Jack Swagger - Good opener. Swagger was the first to get eliminated, leaving Cesaro and Van Dam. They had a good back and forth, and the ECW-style finish was very good. Cesaro winning continues his push, but I see a real issue in how to keep him as a heel given the reaction he's getting from the crowds. He still can't talk, so he needs a mouthpiece, but there aren't any good guy managers around anymore. Right now there's no one you can put him in there with that will own the crowd, except maybe Daniel Bryan. We'll see what happens.
- Handicap Match: Rusev vs. Xavier Woods and R-Truth - No surprise here. Truth and Woods put up a good fight, better than these matches usually give us. I still have no idea why you put two credible guys like Woods and Truth up as handicap match fodder. Rusev didn't totally squash them, and we didn't get the usual one guy killing two at the same time kind of stuff that takes place in these matches. The action was mainly one on one throughout, which does help Truth and Woods save some face.
- Barrett vs. Langston - I was surprised by the clean finish. This was a very good match. Langston is much better than your average power lifter type wrestler, and Barrett has always been good in the ring. Barrett has a similar problem as Cesaro in that he's supposed to be a heel but he's getting cheered by the live crowds. A few months of investment into his new character will do that for you. Barrett is getting a push here, but he's gotten that before. He has the goods to move up the card, but will it finally happen this time? Langston's future is kind of cloudy to me. He looked good in the loss, and has the look of a World Title contender. Dropping the I-C Title is either a sign that he's going to move up or that they're done with him for a while. We'll see.
- Six Man Tag Team Match: The Shield vs. Evolution - Good but not great match here. The first half was like a RAW level match, but the second half was tremendous and it was all due to the Shield. I was caught off guard by Batista cleanly jobbing for the finish; he just got beat straight up by Roman Reigns with no shenanigans. The news yesterday that Batista is not particularly happy with the way things have gone for him since he came back and would be going away early, perhaps for good, cleared it up really quickly. That was a he's leaving the company kind of finish.
- Diva's Title Match: Paige vs. Tamina Snuka - It was what it was. They only six minutes and some change to work. Paige is good in the ring and Tamina is good enough to have a decent match with her.
- Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt - This was strange, and not in a good way. The finish was an overbooked mess, and didn't help Bray look like a main eventer even in victory. Cena was fighting off Rowan and Harper in addition to Bray and still looked like the winner. Then the whole bit with the lights going out and the demon child distracting Cena....just too much. But, at least the right man won.
- Main Event: Daniel Bryan vs. Kane - This was a throwback match, to the days of Attitude Era RAW, and the hardcore, falls count anywhere matches. They went backstage and used all kind of weapons, tables, crowbars, you name it. Bryan loaded Kane on a forklift and drove him back down to the ring, then followed up with a diving leap off the top of the forklift. Just crazy stuff. But it was entertaining as hell, and Bryan carried a fun match and good show ender. The finish was absolutely bananas.