April 18, 2016
From the O2 Arena in London, England
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole
The show opens up with the Ambrose Asylum. We see a clip of Ambrose interrupting Chris Jericho’s “Highlight Reel” last week where he gave him the Dirty Deeds. Ambrose starts off with a joke comparing Braun Strowman to a river monster then introduces us to James Corden’s parents before bringing out his guest, Shane McMahon. Shane gets a great reaction from the crowd. He offers Shane a seat before realizing there were not any available then shows us the clip of Shane jumping off of the Cell and through a table at WrestleMania. Ambrose then talks about Shane being even crazier than him as Shane appreciates that compliment. Ambrose then asks Shane his goals as GM of RAW. Shane says the fans are on his agenda and that they all deserve better and a new era is being ushered in where new superstars are given a chance, like AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, and Sasha Banks because that is what the fans have demanded. Kevin Owens interrupts to tell Shane this is the same crap we have seen, which is another McMahon in power who has a personal vendetta against himself. Owens asks Shane why he was removed from the building last week as Shane tells him he was going to cost Zayn a chance at a title match. Owens talks about being punished for being honest and tells us that Zayn is not good enough to make it on his own and has been riding his coattails for years. Zayn now interrupts and reminds Owens that he got signed to the WWE before he did and how that drives him crazy. Zayn then said Owens knows deep down that he would have never ended up in the WWE if not for him. Jericho interrupts and tells the fans to shut up as he has something to say. He tells Shane the only one in the ring with a brain is Kevin Owens because he told Shane he was another McMahon drunk with power. Jericho then tells Shane he didnt like him back then and does not now as he is the best in the world. He then gets pissed over Shane ending the Highlight Reel as Shane tells us this is about new opportunity and you can see the Highlight Reel on the WWE Network. They all bicker until Ambrose yells at them all to be careful around his plant. Shane then tells us at Payback, Jericho will face Ambrose and Zayn will face Owens. Shane then said tensions are getting a bit too high and leaves but not before Ambrose hands him his plant. Ambrose and Owens brawl, as do Jericho and Zayn. until the segment ends.
Not bad. All the guys involved played their roles well enough. However, the constant interruptions are the same formula we have seen for years. Plus, we are still not finding out why Shane is still in charge of RAW. Anyway, they also made two more matches for Payback that both sound good on paper and continue those feuds. Overall, this was a fine way to start off the show.
Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn
Shane McMahon made this match during the break on Facebook, according to Cole. Zayn catches Jericho with a few armdrags to start. He works the arm for a bit as the announcers talk about the new era of the WWE. Zayn rolls outside but dodges an attack then hits an Arabian Press that was wide right. Back inside, Zayn catches Jericho off of the top with a punch but has his Mexican armdrag spot blocked after Jericho tripped him up. Jericho roughs up Zayn in the corner but Zayn fights back. Jericho then connects with a dropkick as Zayn rolls out to the floor as we head to break. The action returns with Jericho hitting a suplex then covering with one foot for a two count. Jericho works a chinlock but Zayn breaks out and pops up with a clothesline. He hits a few more clotheslines then gets a nearfall with a flying body press. Jericho floats over on a suplex and attempts the Walls of Jericho but Zayn fights back. Jericho catches Zayn with a bulldog but Zayn got his knees up on a Lionsault attempt. Zayn comes back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two then heads up top but Jericho catches him with a dropkick in midair. He then puts Zayn in the Walls of Jericho but he is just able to reach the ropes after a struggle. Jericho gets backdropped to the floor but is able to dodge a diving attack. However, Zayn follows out and hits his rope dive DDT. Zayn rolls Jericho back inside and sets him up for the Helluva Kick but Jericho ducked under the rope. Jericho then poked Zayn in the eye and hit a Codebreaker for the win (12:48) **3/4.
Thoughts: Solid TV match. The second half was a lot better as the action picked up. They were a bit rocky together in the beginning. They let Zayn look good here in defeat and losing via cheating is not the worst to happen to Zayn.
Later tonight, Dean Ambrose will face Kevin Owens. Plus, the #1 Tag Team Title Contender Tournament Semifinals with the Vaudevillains vs. The Usos and the Dudley Boyz vs. Enzo & Cass.
Mauro Ranallo is backstage with AJ Styles. However, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows walk in and say hi to AJ, who introduces us to them. They all slap hands and hug as both Anderson & Gallows thank AJ for putting in a good word with the company and how they will make the most of their opportunity, just like he will. They all bring up their last night together then leave to find a place to catch up. They are certainly not pretending that these three did not have a past together.
Enzo & Cass come out for their match. The crowd is jacked for these guys and are right in tune with their schtick. They tell us a riddle that ends with “there is ‘Dud’ in Dudleyz”, much like their is “lie in believe” among other things. Enzo said Cass and himself are like “A Cups” because they are real, whether you like them or not. Funny line.
#1 Tag Team Title Contender Tournament Match: Enzo & Cass vs. Dudley Boyz
The Dudleyz beat on Enzo to start as we head to break. The action returns with Bubba firing away on Enzo, who starts to fight back. Enzo then eggs Bubba on but ends up bouncing off of him. The Dudleys cut off the ring as they as Bubba taunts Enzo while he hits him. Bubba gets two off of a splash then shortly after that climbs up to the middle rope. Enzo tries to fight but gets hoved off. However, Bubba misses a senton as Enzo makes the tag. Cass runs wild on D-Von, using a lot of basic big-man offense. He missed a corner splash then tagged Bubba. The Dudleys hit Cass with a neckbreaker but Bubba ends up accidentally hitting D-Von after that. Cass then boots Bubba in the face and tags Enzo as they hit the Rocket Launcher for the win (8:33) *1/2.
Thoughts: Basic tag match. Bubba continues to be very entertaining in his role. The whole match was built around the hot tag to Cass. He looked fine and stuck to the basics. The crowd reacted well to him but its clear who the WWE sees as the star of the team and it’s not Enzo but regardless, the right team went over here as the WWE attempts to rejuvenate their incredibly stale Tag Team division.
Roman Reigns heads out to the ring. His does his “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m just the guy” line. He puts over AJ Styles for being a world-traveled champion as well as a great technical wrestler. The crowd chants for AJ then Reigns tells the crowd he will not be outwrestled at Payback as he is bringing the big fight. He then threatens to punch anyone threatening to stand in his way as this is the era of the Roman Empire and he is here to stay.
AJ comes out to a huge reaction. He tells Roman that he is one heck of a champion, as well as powerful and aggressive. He also tells Roman to beat him, he will need to have the match of his life. However, having the match of his life is what he does and that is why the WWE came calling and at Payback, that will help him become the WWE World Champion. Reigns tells AJ he understands but at WrestleMania, he had the match of his life. He then asks the crowd if they like AJ and says while he digs what AJ does himself, the crowd will not like when he beats him at Payback. Roman then says the crowd will respect him after that and he’d much rather be respected with the belt than without it. AJ counters by saying that he would rather be liked and respected, as that is what makes a phenomenal champion. AJ leaves after that then while he is halfway up the ramp, Anderson & Gallows attack Reigns from behind as they came through the crowd. AJ turns around and seems comfused as Reigns is left laying then they walk by and pat AJ on the shoulder as we head to break.
Interesting angle. I actually thought that both guys were good on the mic here. Sure, the script was not the most inspired but they played their roles well with Roman respecting AJ while saying he will win as AJ told Roman he has been having big matches his whole career and that is not stopping now, especially for the biggest match of his career. The attack by Anderson & Gallows was interesting as they can go two ways with that: AJ ends up joining them or, AJ rejects their help, wanting to win the title on his own, and that leaves the door open for someone else (Finn Balor?) to come up and join Anderson & Gallows. I liked this segment and how it left things open and how it gave us a reason to see them face off against each other.
Backstage, AJ approaches Roman Reigns. AJ tells Reigns he had no idea Gallows & Anderson were behind the attack. Reigns does not believe him and says that its no coincidence that they attacked his cousin last week and him tonight. Reigns tells AJ that it is no secret he brought them into the company and while AJ says that it is true, he does not need his friends to win the title. Reigns then tells AJ to bring all his friends because its one vs. all and either way, he is not getting the title.
Another interesting segment. Also, to note, is that AJ did not deny knowing about the attack on the Usos beforehand. Prior to the attack, Reigns was acting a bit heelish but since he got beat down and wants revenge, he is now in a position to get sympathy. Which is odd as he gets booed constantly and is going up against a fan favorite. Regardless, they are setting up a lot of ways to go with this storyline and its all intriguing at the moment.
Fandango vs. Baron Corbin
Dolph Ziggler is on commentary as we see a clip of Corbin attacking him after their match two weeks ago on RAW, where Ziggler was hit with the End of Days on the floor. Fandango lands some punches in the corner but gets caught with a forearm smash while coming off of the top rope. Corbin tosses Fandango outside and roughs him up before launching Fandango right at Ziggler, as he was speaking on commentary. Corbin then rolls Fandango inside and hits the End of Days for the win (1:21) NR. After the match, Ziggler runs in for the attack but Corbin boots him down then outside of the ring, hits Ziggler with the End of Days.
Thoughts: They are going with a Corbin/Ziggler feud for now and that is fine with me. If they are going to push Corbin, then they need to do more to get his character over. But, having Ziggler put him over sounds like a good idea to me and they are making him look like a badass so they are on the right track.
Before Miz TV, Maryse and Miz are walking backstage and see coffee spilled on the floor. Maryse then yells at some assistant walking by to take of his jacket and put it over the mess. He does and they walk over the coat.
We get another vignette from Primo & Epico. It was the same from last week where they told us to leave our miserable cities and head over to one of the 245 beaches in Puerto Rico.
Miz TV is up now. Maryse does his introduction. Miz tells the crowd that “William & Katherine” have nothing on Maryse and himself. They put over how Prince George is bland and ordinary unlike their baby as Miz holds up the Intercontinental Title. Cesaro then comes out to interrupt. He teases ripping off his suit then heads into the ring before posing briefly near a bunch of “Cesaro Section” signs. Cesaro talks about the only thing royal about Miz is that he is a “royal pain in the ass.” Miz calls Cesaro a “supporting actor” unlike himself, a leading man. The crowd starts a boring chant before Miz does a “Mizified” monologue from the movie “Taken.” He talks about how he will beat the person who will take away his IC Title. Miz does a second take and tries a third but Cesaro interrupts to tell Miz “When his hand goes up, your mouth goes shut.” Cesaro says the only thing that will happen at Payback is that he will become the new IC Champion. He then gives Miz a movie quote from the late Roddy Piper and tells Miz “He came here to chew bubble gum and kick ass (spits out his gum) and said that he is all out of gum.” Miz asks if he wants to fight here and now and while there is nothing he wants to do more than beat him, he is scheduled for a match against Rusev, who heads out to the ring accompanied by the rest of the League of Nations. Cesaro interrupts and said he talked to Shane McMahon before the show and its going to be Miz & League of Nations against himself and after ripping of his suit to reveal a “Booty O’s” tank top, the New Day. The New Day comes out and dances before the break.
Another solid segment tonight. The Miz was good here and giving Cesaro the Piper movie quote was a clever idea. The set up for the tag match here was also creative and a fun way to get the New Day involved in the show. You could say the Miz/Cesaro interaction dragged at points but overall, I thought this was good.
The Miz w/ Maryse & League of Nations vs. Cesaro & The New Day
This started during the break. Miz works over Xavier for a bit until he is caught with a discus forearm following an Irish whip sequence. Big E tags and hits Miz with a splash for a nearfall. Kofi tags but Miz tosses him against the ropes and tags out as Del Rio takes control. Kofi comes back with a double stomp for two then the New Day hits the Unicorn Stampede, with Cesaro also joining in on the fun. Xavier get caught with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and after that the League of Nations take control of the match. They cut off the ring as they take turns beating down Xavier as we head to break. The action returns with Miz in control until he walks into a backdrop. Both men are down but Sheamus and Del Rio pull Xavier’s teammates off of the apron. The League of Nations beat down Xavier until he comes back with a tornado DDT. He then tags Cesaro, who runs wild. He hits Sheamus and Miz with running uppercuts. He then runs outside to hit Rusev and Del Rio with uppercuts before hitting Sheamus with a crossbody for a nearfall. Miz breaks up a swing attempt then Xavier breaks up a pin attempt as the match breaks down. Sheamus tries to hit Cesaro with a powerslam but he blocks that and puts Sheamus away with the Neutralizer (13:28) **1/2. After the match, The New Day and Cesaro celebrate with the fans.
Thoughts: Solid action here. The end was fun and it kept the Cesaro/Miz feud going by having Cesaro look strong heading into their match at Payback. However, with the Wyatt Family seemingly out of action for a bit due to Bray’s injury, I do not know what the League of Nations is left to do at this point. The New Day are facing the tournament winners and that leaves the League of Nations on the sidelines for now. Its sad to see Rusev being wasted like this.
Ranallo is backstage with Ric Flair and Charlotte. She shows them the end of Charlotte’s match against Natalya last week where Flair yanked out the win to save her daughter, who was tapping out to the Sharpshooter. Charlotte said Ranallo was worse than Dr. Phil and a poor journalist because as Champion, its Natalya’s job to beat her. Natalya comes in and said that while her father saved her last week, Shane McMahon gave her a rematch. Charlotte asks Natalya what will be different this time as Natalya says she has someone in her corner for that match and it will be Bret “The Hitman” Hart. She leaves as Charlotte looks upset as she stares at her dad, who sits there keeping a straight face.
This segment was fine. It set up the rematch that Natalya deserved and gave Charlotte a bit of comeuppance when it was announced that Bret Hart would be in Natalya’s corner. I do sense that they are slowly building up to a Charlotte/Ric split and so far, they are doing a fine job with that if that is the desired direction.
Natalya & Becky Lynch & Paige & Sasha Banks vs. Naomi & Tamina & Summer Rae & Charlotte
Charlotte and Natalya start things off. However, Charlotte opts to tag Summer Rae instead. Natalya works over Summer before tagging Sasha. Summer tries to run away but Sasha grabs her by the hair. However, Summer catches her and drags her over to her corner. Naomi tags and Sasha, who then tags Paige, as Naomi and Paige work a messy sequence. Naomi rolls outside to console with Tamina as Paige takes them out with a flip dive from the apron. Becky takes out Charlotte as we head to break. We return with Becky and Naomi trading rollups. Tamina tags and gets booted off of the apron but she eventually yanks Becky out on the floor. The crowd chants for Becky as Tamina work a chinlock. The heels cut off the ring for a bit until Becky escapes and makes the tag. Natalya runs wild on Summer until she comes back with a spinning heel kick. Charlotte is in as the match breaks down but Natalya counters a figure eight attempt with a Sharpshooter as Charlotte taps out quickly (10:26) *1/2.
Thoughts: The match itself was not too good. However, it served its purpose of building up Natalya as she faces Charlotte for the Womens Title at Payback. And Charlotte tapping out quickly as not to risk injury works in storyline as well as she will do whatever it takes to retain her title. I am all in favor of the company building up its challengers heading into a PPV.
We get a replay of the attack on Reigns earlier tonight and his interaction with Styles after the show. Also, we see AJ speak with Gallows & Anderson and Shane McMahon with the Usos but we do not get to hear what they have to say.
Primo & Epico are walking the streets of San Juan. They talked about being surrounded by history and talk about these events. They talk about Ponce De Leon trying to find the fountain of youth and how we will feel younger just by traveling to Puerto Rico. I hope we get a point of all this soon because these vignettes are not intriguing in the slightest.
#1 Tag Team Title Contender Tournament Match: Vaudevillains vs. The Usos
Jey Uso is selling a shoulder injury from last week’s attack by Gallows & Anderson. The Vaudevillains beat down Jimmy to start as the announcers reiterate how the Usos are not 100%. Jey tags in and runs wild but English nearly rolls him up for the win. Jey catches English with a super kick but flies out to attack Gotch and hurts his shoulder. English takes advantage and tags Gotch as they hit the Whirling Dirvish for the win (3:26) *.
Thoughts: Fine for what it was I suppose. The crowd was dead for this though. I like how the Usos sold their attack of last week’s attack but it also highlights the inconsistency of the WWE when they sold that more than Shane McMahon sold his fall from the top of the cell at WrestleMania. Either way, we are getting an NXT Tournament Finals with the Vaudevillains facing Enzo & Cass. I assume the Usos will be the first program for Gallows & Anderson.
We get a video package on Apollo Crews. He tells us he came here to be a champion. The package was fine but it did not do anything but paint him as a generic babyface.
Apollo Crews vs. Heath Slater w/ Social Outcasts
We see that during the RAW Pre-Show, Crews said he would join them, as long as they could beat him and if they did not, they would have to leave him alone forever. Crews catches Slater with a dropkick to start. Slater regroups then kicks Crews low but ends up getting tossed down. Crews hits a delayed vertical suplex but Slater comes back with a cheap shot and tosses him to the floor. Back inside, Slater works a chinlock for a bit. Cres escapes and lands a few punches. Crews kips-up then takes the rest of the Outcasts out with a moonsault from the apron. Crews tries a crossbody that Slater rolls through but hits an enziguiri before putting him away with a spinout powerbomb (4:30) *1/2.
Thoughts: Crews looked impressive but it would have done more to get him over if he just ran through these guys. So far, he looks good in the ring but they’ve given us little reason to care about him.
As Crews celebrates, Kevin Owens walks out and stares down Crews as he heads out to the ring for his match.
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose stomps on Owens in the corner. He then catches him with a knee smash then hammers away in the corner. Owens catches Ambrose with a back elbow smash then starts beating him down. Owens stops a comeback attempt short with a DDT then applies a chinlock. Ambrose fights back and then takes out Owens with a tope. Owens then tosses Ambrose over the announcers table then they start brawling there as Ambrose returns the favor as we head to break. The action returns with Ambrose in control. Owens cuts off Ambrose as he climbed up top then hit a cannonball for a nearfall. Senton gets two. Owens grabs another chinlock. Owens then uses Ambrose’s momentum to send him to the floor then follows with a frog splash from the apron. Owens yells “Did you see that Cole” as the crowd starts a “Fight Owens Fight” chant. Ambrose just beats the ten count as Owens stomps away. He applies another chinlock that Ambrose breaks up with a back suplex. They fight up top and that ends with Owens getting knocked off. He roll outside as Ambrose flies out with an elbow smash. Back inside, they duke it out until Ambrose turn Owens inside-out with a clothesline. Owens heads up top but Ambrose runs up as well and hits a superplex for a two count. Ambrose counters a Pop-Up Powerbomb with a hurricarana but ends up eating a super kick for two. Owens heads back up top but Ambrose cuts him off. However, Owens hits him with a Death Valley Driver from the top for two. Owens heads back up top but Ambrose got his knees up on a frogsplash. Owens gets up first but misses a cannonball then shortly after that Ambrose catches him with the Dirty Deeds for the win (17:17) ***1/4. After the match, Jericho runs out and hits Ambrose with a Codebreaker as the show ends.
Thoughts: The match was good. However, the psychology was missing at times. And truthfully, that is come to be expected in an Ambrose match. Owens paying for keep trying to go to the top rope was the story as both Zayn and himself lost tonight, against Jericho and Ambrose respectively. You can clearly see where the company views those guys after that.
Final Thoughts: Overall, an enjoyable show. They are building up Payback well and have been doing a good job at having the title challengers look strong. Also, the newcomers since WrestleMania have all been put into positions to look good. Another thing to note was the intrigue they have added to the World Title storyline with Gallows & Anderson.
However, there are still a few questions like why is Shane McMahon still in charge of RAW? They did not address that issue tonight and its a Grand Canyon-sized plothole. I wonder how long it will take for this to happen.
And, I also wonder how Bray Wyatt’s injury impacted tonight’s show. At least, I assume there would have been a confrontation with the League of Nations and possibly even more interaction with Reigns.
In closing, it was a good show that did a fine job at shaping up the Payback PPV.