WWE Payback 2015 5/17/2015

Written by: Scrooge McSuck from DaWrestlingsite.com

– Presented LIVE on the WWE Network on May 17th 2015, from the Royal Arms Arena in Baltimore, MD. Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and John “Bradshaw” Layfield are ringside to drag down the quality of all the matches, unless otherwise noted.

Kickoff Match #1: R-Truth vs. Stardust:
This is a Bonus Match, just for us lucky fans who subscribe to the WWE Network. I guess this is Round 7 of their Best of 999 Series. The crowd is surprisingly into R-Truth’s entrance, but they die once Stardust shows up. How did Cody Rhodes get so un-over that he kills crowds for opening matches?! Stardust dares Truth to attack him in a goofy Looney Tunes inspired “I dare you to cross this line” spot. Stardust drops Truth across the turnbuckle with a suplex to take control. Truth comes back with his signature front suplex. Stardust out of nowhere with the Disaster Kick for two. Side effect gets another two count. Stardust removes his gloves and slaps Truth around (Glove Slap! Baby Glove Slap!). Truth catches Stardust coming off the ropes with the jumping heel kick, and finishes with the downward spiral at 6:53. * Typical nothing match from these two. They need to ditch the Stardust gimmick.

Kickoff Match #2: Macho The Meta-Powers vs. The Ascension:
(Macho Mandow & Axelmania vs. Viktor & Konnor)

Is this a joke? Oh, it is… umm… well, that kind of ruins my entire introduction of the match. The Ascension, a tag team that dominated NXT for what felt like forever, is already relegated to comedy routines like this, where Damien Sandow and Curtis Axel play dress-up as the Mega Powers while the crowd goes to the lobby to get themselves some snacks. WWE can’t even make up their minds whether it’s the Meta or Mega Powers. Axel is actually dressed completely like Hogan for this one. He wastes no time in Hulking Up, approximately 13-seconds into the match. He hits Konnor with the big boot and leg drop for two. Mandow in with clotheslines and an axehandle, followed by the hanging drop across the top rope. He goes for the Flying Elbow, but gets thrown off the turnbuckle, and the Ascension finish him with the Fall of Man at 2:50. DUD I guess this was slightly amusing, and they didn’t job the Ascension to the goofy comedy team.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus:
Opening Match proper for the PPV. This feud has been on-going since the night after WrestleMania XXXI. They met at Extreme Rules, but Sheamus backed down on the stipulations and forced Dolph to kiss his “arse” instead. Sheamus with a pre-match pie-facing. Ziggler sends him to the floor with a clothesline and dives off the apron with what almost looked like Ambrose’s elbow. Ziggler with a body press for two. Sunset flip for another two count. Sheamus catches the super-kick and drives an elbow into the knee. He brings Ziggler back from the apron with a suplex and grabs a chinlock. Sheamus with a tilt-o-whirl back breaker for two. He screams “are you not entertained?!”, which is something I should know the reference of, but am totally blanking. Sheamus meets the post on a charge attempt. Ziggler comes off the ropes with a series of elbows, a running dropkick, and snap DDT for two. He knocks Sheamus silly and forces him to kiss his arse as retaliation (and commitment) to their match at Extreme Rules. Funny spot with Sheamus rinsing his mouth out after the fact. Sheamus hot shots Dolph, but the Brogue Kick misses. Fame-Asser gets two. Sheamus with a sit-out Powerbomb for two. Running powerslam gets two. Sheamus with White Noise and the Clover-Leaf, but Ziggler makes it to the ropes. Ziggler throws a vicious headbutt and hits the Super-Kick for two. He’s bleeding good from that headbutt spot. Sheamus comes out of the corner with the Brogue Kick, and that’s enough for three at 13:15. *** Really good match to open the PPV, and the finish worked well, whether the blood was legit or if it was prop blood. The second Ziggler made Sheamus kiss his butt, you knew that Sheamus was walking out the winner.

WWE Tag Team Championship; 2 out of 3 Falls Match:
The New Day © (w/ Xavier Woods) vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (w/ Natalya):

The New Day won the titles at Extreme Rules, and since then have been waging a PG war with the unofficially named Brass Ring Club. Kidd and Cesaro have matching Purple for tonight. Before the match, the New Day heckles the Baltimore crowd, including Baltimore Orioles All-Star, Adam Jones, seated in the front row. Fall #1: Kidd and Kofi start. They do a quick sequence before tagging out. Cesaro catches Big E. with a Power-Slam off a leap frog attempt. Big E. with a press slam. Cesaro with a gut-wrench suplex, followed by a double-double stomp. He takes Kofi over with a delayed suplex, while Kidd comes off the top rope to drive him into the canvas. Slingshot into a spinebuster connects. They do the Giant Swing into the basement dropkick, and that wins the fall at 2:53. Talk about quick!

Fall #2: Xavier Woods demands subbing in for Kofi via the Freebird rule, but the referee won’t allow it. Kidd turns Kofi inside out on a clothesline. He tries a dive to the floor, but Big E. catches him and throws him overhead with a belly-to-belly suplex. Cute spot sees Cesaro borrow a fans water to give Kidd a refreshment, then hands it back. Kofi and Big E. take turns stomping a major-league mud-hole in Kidd. Kofi with a basement dropkick, and Big E. grabs a bear-hug. Big E. with another throw, followed by a big splash for two. He hits Cesaro with the spear through the ropes, basically taking him out of the match for a while. Kofi comes off the top and takes a dropkick to the chest. Kidd goes for the tag, but Cesaro is still out. He rolls up a charging Big E. for two. He escapes the Big Ending, but the second attempt finishes, and we’re tied at one fall each at 8:07.

Fall #3: Kofi immediately goes for another cover, but it only gets two. Big E. with a belly-to-belly suplex. Cesaro finally gets the tag in and sends Kofi from corner to corner, nailing him with uppercuts on each trip. He press slams Kofi onto Big E., but a double under-hook suplex on Big E. doesn’t go so well. Running uppercut to Kofi gets a two count. Cesaro with a back breaker and Kidd with a springboard elbow drop for two. Kidd with the Sharpshooter, but Kofi makes it to the ropes. Big E. gets dumped over the ropes and thrown across the English announcers table. Kidd and Cesaro with a holy crap spot in the corner I can’t even describe, and an uppercut knocks Kofi silly. Chaos erupts, and suddenly Xavier Woods sneaks in and cradles Kidd for three at 12:40. I guess that should’ve been obvious, and it was too soon to take the titles off New Day. ***1/2 Really good, with non-stop action, but the finish just came too soon when there could’ve been more near falls milked.

Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt:
Lets just say it now… this feud is stupid and won’t do anything for either man except fill a couple of months. How could Wyatt consider Ryback a “Fallen idol” when he wasn’t that popular to begin with? Slugfest to start. Ryback takes control with shoulder tackles to the midsection, followed by the Thesz Press. We get dueling chants, because this crowd is determined to stay hot for every match, dammit! Wyatt nails Ryback with his signature body throw to take control. Snapmare into a chinlock from the Eater of Worms…err, Worlds. Ryback comes back with a powerslam for two. He meets post on a charge attempt, allowing Wyatt to regain control. I just now noticed… does Ryback have the Jaws promotional image printed on the back of his singlet? LAWSUIT! Wyatt comes off the apron with a super-sized back splash. Back in the ring, Ryback catches Wyatt in a compromised position and plants him with a Power-Bomb. Power-Slam gets two. Wyatt suckers him to the floor and connects with a clothesline. Back inside, he takes Ryback over with a suplex throw. They take turns countering suplex attempts. Ryback comes off the top with a splash, but it only gets two. Ryback counters Sister Abigail, and Wyatt counters the Shell-Shock. Somewhere in a tussle, the turnbuckle pad is removed. Ryback gets sent into it, and Wyatt finishes with Sister Abigail at 10:59. I would’ve put money on a full Wyatt reunion… maybe next time. **1/4 Surprisingly decent considering the participants. I guess my expectations were just that low.

WWE United States Championship; I Quit Match:
John Cena © vs. Rusev (w/ Lana):

This is the end of their rivalry, and had more than one of their three matches been good, I would care, but at this point, I just want to get it over with. Odds of Lana turning and/or costing Rusev the match… highly likely. Rusev gives Cena the chance to quit before it begins, but Cena’s response is to attack. Rusev quickly takes control, but finds himself distracted by the chants for Lana. Rusev with a series of dropkicks, followed by a spinning heel kick. Rusev is distracted again by the crowd, so he starts taunting everyone with the Russian flag. Cena finally mounts some offense, hitting the back suplex, shoulder tackles, and Five-Knuckle Shuffle, but the AA is countered with a fallaway slam. The ring steps enter the ring, and Rusev repeatedly throws Cena into them. Rusev goes for a piledriver, but Cena counters. The AA is countered again, this time with an uranage’. The AA finally connects, and Rusev is in too much pain to even answer. Cena launches the steps, but misses. He sends Rusev into the post, then tackles him through the security wall. He tries to run him down with a crate, but Rusev with the big kick. They brawl into the crowd, with Rusev gingerly placing Cena onto a table with a Communist Slam. Cena thankfully no-sells it. Cena bashes him repeatedly with a fun assortment of weapons. The dreaded exploding lap-top that did in Dean Ambrose isn’t enough to finish Rusev. Cena goes for the AA, but Rusev counters and puts him through the table on Slam attempt #2. Rusev has a grand scheme, but misses the big kick, and Cena puts him onto a cushion with the AA, causing a pyro explosion. Lame. Lana rushes down in a panic, but surprisingly doesn’t surrender for him. Cena with an old-style security rail to the face. Rusev escapes the AA and suplexes Cena across the rail, bending it in half! Back in the ring, Rusev hits the Super-Kick, and the Accolade is applied. Cena battles to his feet, but Rusev hangs on. Rusev lets go of the hold, despite Cena being incapable of answering the referee. Rusev actually undoes the top rope and revives Cena with some of Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff. Cena avoids the shot with the buckle and applies the STF with the top rope (kind of). Rusev rants in Russian (allegedly in pain), and Lana surrenders on his behalf at 28:18. *** Too long for that kind of finish, but it was incredibly obvious that’s what was going to happen. Good brawl, but an under-whelming finish to an even more disappointing feud.

Nikki & Brie Bella vs. Naomi & Tamina:
Yeah, the Bellas continue their improbable run as babyfaces after spending most of 2015 as obnoxious tw@s. Tamina came back from injury a few weeks back, and her role as someone elses muscle is always a good choice. Nikki and Naomi start. Naomi pounds away in the corner, but Nikki comes back with a springboard kick for two. Double flapjack from the Bellas for two. Brie with a knee to the midsection, and “Brie Mode” gets a mild response. Tamina lays out Brie with a super-kick from the apron. Naomi stands on the hair and puts the boots to Brie. I guess she’s not doing any flashy offense anymore because it would get a face pop? Brie tries fighting back, but gets caught in the corner. Naomi with a swinging neck breaker for two. Brie lands on her head doing… something, and tags out to Nikki. She hits Naomi with a one-foot dropkick, followed by an Alabama Slam for two. Tamina misses a super-kick and gets knocked to the floor with a dropkick. Naomi from behind with a roll up for two. Tamina with a distraction, and the Rear-View gets… two? Brie with a dive off the steps onto Tamina at ringside. Nikki with a spinebuster for two. Naomi tosses Nikki off the top and covers for three at 6:19. * This was what I expected. Short, a little sloppy, and completely forgettable two minutes after it ended.

– Rusev has harsh words for Lana and orders her out of his locker room.

– We recap the emotional speech from Daniel Bryan where he relinquished the Intercontinental Championship, and may or may not ever compete in a wrestling ring again. Sad face.

Neville vs. King Barrett:
Poor Barrett probably has to carry those stupid props through airports every night. This was the finals of the 2015 King of the Ring, so Neville should be winning based on 50/50 booking. It’s the Man That Gravity Forgot vs. The Man WWE Creatives Gives Up On. Lockup to the corner, Neville avoids a right and rolls Barrett up for two. Neville with a twisting body press and spinning head scissors, sending Barrett to the floor. Barrett avoids the Asai Moonsault and punts Neville on the midsection. Back inside, Barrett hooks a chinlock. Neville blows a spot in the corner and gets a boot to the face for it. Barrett with a springboard into a back breaker for two. He connects with another boot, knocking Neville to the outside. Neville fights out of a chinlock and unloads with kicks. Neville with a standing SSP for two. Barrett with a hard kick to the midsection. He sets up for the Bull Hammer, but Neville ducks it. Winds of Change connects for two. Neville escapes Wasteland and springs off the ropes into a unique roll up into a pin for two. Jumping enziguri connects. Neville to the top rope, but Barrett rolls to the floor. This time Neville follows with a twisting suicide dive! Barrett decides enough is enough, and takes the Count-Out loss at 7:24. Cheap. Post-match, Barrett attempts a beat-down, but Neville crushes him with Red Arrow. ** OK for what it was, but the finish was weak and Neville wasn’t as crisp as he usually is.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Seth Rollins © (w/ J & J Security) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton:

Kane is at ringside, to ensure something stupid happens to make sure Rollins retains the Championship. Odds of Ambrose taking the pinfall… highly likely. Odds of a Shield reunion at the end of the night… highly unlikely. Noble and Mercury instantly get involved, unsuccessfully. Ambrose sends Rollins to the floor and follows with a suicide dive. Reigns goes flying over the top with a sick dive of his own onto the pile of bodies. Reigns with a tilt-o-whirl slam for two. Hard whip into the corner, followed by an uppercut for two. Ambrose to the top rope with his signature elbow drop for two. Orton and Ambrose exchange blows until Orton connects with the back breaker. Reigns escapes an RKO attempt and Ambrose takes Orton to the floor with a clothesline. Rollins puts the boots to Reigns. Ambrose interrupts a charge and throws him into a clothesline from Reigns. They bump knuckles and take turns pounding away on Rollins. Reigns sets up for the Superman Punch, but Kane pulls him out of the ring. Ambrose attacks and his clothesline is interrupted with an uppercut. Orton gets ganged up on by Kane, Mercury, and Noble, leaving Rollins alone with Ambrose. Rollins springs off the top with the big knee for two. Rollins with the Powerbomb into the turnbuckle, followed by a super-kick for two. Ambrose counters the second Powerbomb attempt and springs off the ropes with a big clothesline. Kane interrupts Dirty Deeds and connects with a Choke-Slam, but it only gets two for Rollins. Orton pulls Kane off the apron and Reigns hits the jumping front dropkick. Orton with clotheslines to Rollins, but Rollins avoids the snap powerslam. Orton with a t-bone suplex for two. Rollins hangs Orton across the top rope, but gets crotched going high risk. Orton follows him up and brings him down with a super-plex for two.

They take it to the floor, where Orton undresses the table, but Rollins interrupts. Reigns sends Orton to the post, and the Shield unite for a brief moment to lay into Orton! TRIPLE TEAM POWER-BOMB THROUGH THE TABLE! Rollins tries acting buddy-buddy, but Reigns and Ambrose are having none of it. The Spanish table gets taken apart, but Kane interrupts. They set Rollins across the table, then Power-Bomb Kane on top of him! They set Kane up again, and this time the Power-Bomb breaks the table! Ambrose and Reigns head in the ring to go one-on-one (“loser buys the beers?”). Ambrose throws the first punch, and the slugfest is on! Reigns with the upper-hand, but the Superman Punch misses. Reigns with a school boy into a sit-out Power-Bomb for two! Ambrose side-steps the Superman Punch and rolls Reigns up for two. Superman Punch attempt #3 finally connects, but it only gets two! Ambrose with a kick to counter the Spear. Reigns counters Dirty Deeds, ducks under the big clothesline, and hits the Spear for two! Reigns fights off J & J Security and stalks Rollins back into the ring. He hits Ambrose with the Enziguri, Superman Punch to Rollins, big clothesline to Reigns, and Dirty Deeds on Rollins gets two! Kane runs amuck with the ring steps and plants Reigns with a Chokeslam. Rollins tries giving Orton the DDT, but Orton escapes. Noble and Mercury run in and take RKO’s. Snap-Powerslam and middle rope DDT on Rollins! Rollins pushes off the RKO. Kane runs in and takes it instead! Rollins with the Pedigree on Orton, and it gets three to retain at 21:46! ***1/4 Take away the excessive interference from the Authority goons, and this was a lot of fun, especially the middle portion from the point where we got the triple team on Orton until the final moments where Kane had to destroy everyone.

Final Thoughts: Enjoyable show from start to finish, but the match finishes could’ve been a bit better. If you think about it, almost every match of significance ended either in a screw-job or through nefarious circumstances. Rollins retains the WWE Title with aggressive interference from the Authority, Cena retains the US Title with Lana giving up on behalf of Rusev, the New Day retained the Tag Titles when the illegal member of the team pinned someone in the deciding fall, Neville won by a cheap count-out, and Wyatt used an exposed turnbuckle to put away Ryback. Nothing great, nothing bad. This is the definitive thumbs in the middle show when you take everything into account, but the wrestling quality is a slight thumbs up.

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