WWE presented Payback from the Thunderdome, just one week after Summerslam. With very little time to build the matches, WWE still managed to deliver yet another tremendous PPV, with all the matches clicking and serving their intended purposes.
With the poster-boy of WWE, Roman Reigns, making his return to in-ring action after a long hiatus was the main attraction of the Payback, which made its return to the schedule after three years.
Almost all the matches on the card were a continuation of the rivalries which have been going on for months and had a satisfying culmination at the PPV.
With three major title changes, Payback had several talking moments, and we look at the results, giving our thoughts and analysis on the event.
Kickoff Show: Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott vs. The IIconics
The last-minute addition to this year’s Payback was a match between two teams who have been feuding for several weeks now. There was a lot of tension between the recently reunited Liv and Riott. The heels used this to their advantage and tried to turn the former Riott Squad members against each other.
A botch from Morgan aside, the match ended with Morgan saving Riott, and Riott hitting the Riott Kick on Kay for the win.
Winners: Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott
Analysis: There was nothing PPV worthy about this match and was simply a filler for the pre-show. There was some good storytelling between Liv and Riott who aren’t still the best of buddies. IIconics continue to remain in a horrible state, as WWE has repeatedly used them for comedic relief or to take losses against other higher positioned roster members.
WWE United States Championship: Apollo Crews (c) vs. Bobby Lashley
After taking down Shelton Benjamin and MVP, Crews moved on to Lashley who matched Crews in intensity and power throughout the match. Crews weathered the early storm from Lashley by hitting a moonsault and sending the CEO of Hurt Business into the ring post.
Crews continued the assault with several suplexes, standing moonsault, and frog splash, but Lashley eventually locked in the deadly Full Nelson submission to win the match and become the new United States Champion.
Winner and new United States Champion: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: Lashley has been a force of nature in 2020, ever since WWE decided to partner him with MVP. WWE booking a faction as strong as Hurt Business is a delight to see, and putting the title on Lashley is the perfect decision.
Often dubbed as the second coming of Lashley himself, Crews shone as the US champion, showing personality and intensity which was never seen before.
Big E vs. Sheamus
The two behemoths went at it with Sheamus showcasing his veteran skills by taking down the face with slow methodical attacks. Sheamus targetted Big E’s knee throughout the match, with several leg attacks. Big E’s rally was quashed by the former WWE Champion who applied a Sharpshooter to further damage the leg of E.
Big E somehow survived and delivered a big spear, before countering the Brogue Kick into a Powerbomb followed by the Big Ending for the pinfall.
Winner: Big E
Analysis: This was a solid match between two highly talented competitors, and served as a great showcase for Big E’s singles push. Big E has been in focus since going solo, and WWE is rightly pushing him with a major victory over Sheamus.
The Irish Star has looked dominant since his return earlier this year but hasn’t managed to win any major feuds so far.
Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin
Corbin attacked Riddle with a clothesline even before the match officially began, and continued to dominate with stomps. Corbin took the attack outside, and later survived Riddle’s attempt to lock in the rear-naked choke. Corbin continued to taunt the former UFC star, which fired up the babyface.
Riddle rallied a comeback but Corbin slowed things down again and hit a Deep Six for nearfall. Riddle landed a few body strikes before hitting the Floating Bro for the pinfall victory.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Analysis: The match almost replicated the events of Big E vs. Sheamus and had similar hard-hitting physical traits to it. The heel dominating most of the match only for the face to come out on top is a trope which is quite repetitive, but since WWE is looking to establish new faces in their company, they get a pass for it.
Riddle has a big future ahead of him, but seems like his feud with Corbin is far from over after the post-match attack backstage.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Sasha Banks and Bayley (c) vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Shayna Baszler dominated early by hitting Sasha Banks with several body strikes before the heels slowly got back into the match by isolating Baszler inside the ring. Jax got into the match by attacking Banks into the ring post before Bayley and Banks hit an elbow drop-frog splash on Jax, but it wasn’t enough.
Baszler eventually got back in the match, and used a supreme double submission maneuver on the champions, using Banks’ arm to choke out Bayley and win the titles.
Winners and the new Women’s Tag Team Champions: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax
Analysis: If we could somehow exclude Nia Jax’s presence from the match, the match becomes even better, as Jax’s role (face or heel) was quite unclear and Baszler along with the Golden Role Models made the match worthwhile.
Baszler has come into her own in the last few weeks, and deservingly took the win, but the partnership with Jax won’t last long. Banks and Bayley’s relationship continued to crumble, as they have gone from dos straps each to just the Smackdown Women’s Championship around Bayley’s waist.
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton
The former NXT Champion’s PPV debut took place against a 13-time World Champion, as the duo quickly took the action outside the ring, where Lee dropped Orton on the announce table. Orton later hit the draping DDT on Lee when he tried to enter the ring, and set up for an RKO.
However, Lee countered and hit a massive Spirit Bomb to pick up a quick win over the Viper.
Winner: Keith Lee
Analysis: This match had just one purpose, establish the next top babyface on RAW. Randy Orton has arguably been the wrestler of the world this year and has delivered fantastic matches with the likes of Drew McIntyre and Edge along with some solid character work, but it all fell apart when the Limitless Lee manhandled Orton like no-one else.
WWE is going for the Brock Lesnar approach with Lee and not a single soul will ever have a problem with that.
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy
Dominik kicked things off in an intense fashion, as he looked to secure revenge after his loss against Rollins last week at SummerSlam. Things got heated between Rollins and his disciple, which led to Dominik hitting the crossbody, but the heels turned it into a Falcon Arrow.
Rey took the hot tag and attacked Rollins but missed with a 619 attempt. Rollins asked Murphy to kick Rey in the head, but Murphy ended up hitting the Messiah himself. Rey brought in his son, who hit the 619 followed by Frog Splash on Murphy to win the match.
Winners: Dominik and Rey Mysterio
Analysis: This was arguably the best match of the evening, as the father-son duo teaming up together to take down the evil of Rollins and Murphy was just great to watch. Dominik continued to display his raw talent and will surely become a major name in the coming years, while Rey showed no signs of slowing down even at 46.
WWE Universal Championship: The Fiend (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
The match kicked off with Fiend and Strowman, as Reigns (who hadn’t signed the contract) didn’t show up. Strowman and Fiend continued from where they left off last week at SummerSlam, hitting each other with various objects before both the stars crashed onto a platform outside.
The action returned to the ring, where a superplex from Fiend onto Strowman broke the ring. Reigns entered the fray after the demolition of the squared circle, signing the contract on his way with a Steel Chair.
After trying to pin both the stars, he lashed out with chair shots, before Fiend locked him in the Mandible Claw. Reigns hit a low blow on Fiend, followed by a spear to Strowman to win the match.
Winner and new Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
Analysis: This was a fantastic introduction for the heel Roman Reigns, and the way in which he won the title will bring him great heat from the WWE Universe. It is unfortunate that Fiend had to give up his second reign so soon, but Reigns is on a roll since his appearance at SummerSlam and partnership with Paul Heyman, and Friday nights just got more exciting with a heel hound on the loose.