Thanks a lot for checking out our very comprehensive look at last night’s show. So I watched Payback last night and made notes on my iPhone. Let’s start going through these matches here.
Wade Barrett(c) v The Miz v Curtis Axel (for the Intercontinental Championship) This was an extremely good way to kick off the show. They worked the triple threat stipulation to really good effect. Every one of these guys had a great match, some brilliant work here. Curtis Axel picked up the strap by crawling in from the outside to cover our Wade while he was in the figure four. This was timed and executed perfectly. A really inventive way to end a very solid opener. There were some really cool exchanges and everyone got in some great offense. It was emotional to see Axel win the title his Dad held with such class over the years. I just hope he isn’t jobbed out on Raw every week now. Excellent start! These boys really set the pace.
Kaitlin(c) v AJ Lee (for the Divas Championship) I’ll be honest. After that thoroughly entertaining first match, I thought we were set for a five minute buffer. I was so wrong. This was easily the best Divas match of the last twelve months. I would say it rivalled the kind of classic matches we saw from Trish Stratus, Lita, Mickie James and the like back in the day. Excellent striking and submission styles from AJ, and very emphatic power moves from Kaitlin. For the first time in a while, I could really buy what these gals were selling.
Speaking of selling, AJ did it as well as her boyfriend does when she sold Kaitlin’s spear. It looked like Goldberg had ran through her. The beautiful blonde had the match won there but took her eye off the ball (in the hands of Big Show) and went on to tap out to AJ’s black widow submission. This was timed and sold to perfection, as was pretty much everything in this match. For a Divas match, it was pretty much flawless. Kaitlin cried some very real tears after the match. It was pretty impressive that she could be that authentic. I actually felt sorry for her for a second. A Divas match helping me suspend my disbelief. Crazy times. The crowd didn’t seem to agree. “You tapped out!”
Dean Ambrose(c) v Kane (for the United States Championship) This was a pretty disappointing encounter. Given the excellent performances we’ve seen from these two over the last few weeks, this was fairly tame. Maybe it’s been overkill and they have ran out of ways to make the match interesting. It seemed fairly short and it was anti-climactic. After the calibre of the first two matches, this was a bit of a step down. Ambrose won by count out, which was a bit lame. A decent match, but not as great as the first two.
ROB VAN DAM WILL BE RETURNING TO WWE AT MONEY IN THE BANK IN AROUND FOUR WEEKS TIME. IT WAS ADVERTISED IN A VIGNETTE ON LAST NIGHT’S SHOW. I WAS A BIT SURPRISED THAT THEY DIDN’T WANT TO GO FOR A SHOCK RETURN, BUT I SUPPOSE THEY WANT TO INCREASE PPV BUY RATES. I THINK THIS SHOULD DO THE TRICK. THE CROWD WENT NUTS, AS DID I!
Dolph Ziggler(c) v Alberto Del Rio (for the World Heavyweight Championship) This was a simply great match for a number of reasons. There were so many different dynamics at play, the psychology was flawless and the work was excellent. Langston was sent to the back early on by legendary referee Mike Chioda. This meant a probable clean finish with credibility. They played on Ziggler’s concussion throughout the match. It was used fantastically by both guys. However, along with the kicks to the head and the intriguing nature of both characters, there were some excellent spots. A particular highlight was a reverse vertical suplex from the top rope.
I began to start thinking about a possible double turn, or at least a Del Rio heel turn when his ruthlessness was reaching new heights. The kicks to the head were vicious and somewhat cowardly. This seemed a lot like old Del Rio. The doctor was even at ringside trying to check on Dolph, but he wouldn’t quit. A factor which was also not lost on the commentary team. Then I thought Dolph was turning face, just like Austin in Bret Hart’s sharpshooter. He managed to survive another crazy kick to the head, get to his feet somehow and catch Del Rio with the zigzag. He couldn’t capitalise and lay there holding his head in agony. The effects of the concussion were completely clear. The ruthless Del Rio hit him with one more swift boot to the skull, and hooked the leg to once again become the World Heavyweight Championship.
This was an incredible match. It had everything. They both told an enthralling story with their bodies, and with their faces. Del Rio’s reaction to the crowd and his frustration were palpable. This had all the characteristics of a double turn, but it will probably just end up being nothing when it comes to Raw later. We will have to see. AJ and Ziggler were both in tears after the match. Very emotional stuff. This match excited and it surprised. I didn’t see Ziggler losing this match at all. I’d be furious about it, had it not been done so well. It could be a platform for both guys to go on and evolve into something fresh and new, or it could demote Ziggler straight back to the mid card. I hope not.
I’m loving this ESPN esque opinion panel thing they are doing at PPVs now. Big Show was particularly amazing. Heel Matthews has been banished to this. He made a hilarious comment parring off the Chicago Cubs.
Del Rio then came back out to try and win the crowd over, but their hatred made it seem like he was actually turning heel. It was a really weird scenario. If this double turn doesn’t happen, this whole thing will have been very silly. But I have to say, what a crazy series of events executed brilliantly.
Chris Jericho v CM Punk Chris Jericho wasn’t booed upon making his entrance, which is what I expected. He didn’t really get a pop but they showed him respect. Punk got a very loud pop but it was still nothing compared to Money In The Bank 2011. He looked even more epic than ever. He has a knack for always coming back with a slight change to his look. Now he is sporting amazing mutton chops (which I immediately replicated, or at least tried to) and his Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy hoody. He was also flanked by Paul Heyman and there didn’t seem to be any dissension there, which was weird.
Punk tried to get the crowd going a bit more before the match started. They were fairly hot but not really as hyped as they should have been. The early exchanges exhibited more of that great psychology that filled this whole show. Jericho controlled a lot of the early going, until Punk started to even it up. The tempo was pretty slow initially, which the commentators chalked up to ring rust. At the time, Punk did seem to be pretty winded after only a few minutes, so that kind of made sense. The pace started to quicken when Punk hit Jericho with the high knee in the corner, yelled “Vintage Punk!” towards Michael Cole and went for the bulldog. Jericho reversed it and hit him with the lionsault. Paul Heyman looked concerned at this point.
Then came a very impressive display of submission wrestling. Jericho got the walls locked in, but Punk managed to crawl up onto him and lock in a standing anaconda vice. He then weighed down on him and locked it in on the mat. Jericho got his foot on the rope, despite Heyman abrasively chanting “Tap!” at him over and over. Punk then got him up for the GTS, but it was countered into the walls again. Heyman got on the apron and distracted him, which enabled Punk to get him on his shoulders once again. But Punk saw him, and was also distracted enough to get rolled up for a long two count.
The match had already been fairly epic by this point. Then the legendary middle of the ring slugfest sparked off, to the crowd’s delight. Then Punk rolled on him with a great flurry of offense, culminating in a GTS. Y2J somehow kicked out at two. The crowd chanted “One more time!” They were fully into the match by this point. Excellent matches do that! When they both returned to their feet, Punk dodged the codebreaker and threw him to the outside, before going for a little suicide dive. Just when you think he might not be 100 per cent, CM Punk steals the show entirely.I feel bad for ever having doubted the best in the world.
What followed was possibly the spot of the night. CM Punk attempted the springboard crossbody, only to suffer a codebreaker in mid freakin’ air! He STILL managed to get the shoulder up before the three. The crowd erupted into a “This is awesome!” chant. Jericho clearly disagreed, and seemed to be losing it and entering a dark place. He beat him down and applied the walls again. The crowd willed Punk free. He managed to reach the ropes. Seconds later, he climbed to his feet and hit Jericho with the GTS. Jericho bounced off the turnbuckle, and straight back into the path of a second consecutive GTS.
Punk got the better of Jericho in what was easily the best of their matches in this modern rivalry. It was a candidate for match of the year, and surely the best of the night by far! Punk and Heyman subtly played out a sort of disagreement under their breath after the match, teasing dissension between them. I expect this to be advanced further on Raw. Maybe Punk will turn face and strike out alone. This was such an incredibly well played out match, that I actually believed Jobber Jericho could defeat CM Punk. Simply sublime! I don’t even know how it could have been better.
The Shield(c) v Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton The Vegan Vipers came to Chicago to spoil the party for the tag team champions. The crowd reaction for Bryan was as crazy as expected, but I think Punk finally wrestled the spotlight away from his unyielding grasp. The crowd were dead for every moment that Bryan wasn’t inside the ropes. The RVD chants continued as they had been all night! They worked the basic psychology well. The Shield working as a team, as opposed to their opponents working like individuals.
“Vintage Bryan” with the high-octane flurry of strikes. He went for a suicide dive but hit Orton after the two Shield members moved. Then came the final exchanges. This involved everyone in the match. Orton went for the RKO on Reigns, but got shoved towards Bryan. He stalled in time to avoid contact, but slammed Bryan back into Reigns’ spear. Then he did hit the RKO on Reigns, but was pushed out of the ring by Rollins, who then hit Bryan with that crazy jumping foot stomp thing he does, and secured the pinfall victory. This was a pretty great match, a clever finish, but are they still teasing with this Orton heel turn? Did it happen or not? I still don’t know. I guess we will see on Raw, or probably not.
John Cena(c) v Ryback (for the WWE Championship) It was hard to care about this after all the amazing matches that came before it. It seemed like the crowd felt the same way because they were as dead as could be. Nevertheless, the match was pretty good and a lot better than the car wreck I expected. Cena got the good 50/50 reaction that you want to here for him. The first fall lumberjack match was very cool. A huge brawl broke out at one point, which fed into one of the best spots of the night. John Cena leapt off the top rope onto the outside, taking out like twenty people. They all fell and scattered like dominoes. It was a pretty amazing visual, I have to say! Ryback got the win with his shellshocked finisher.
The second fall was a table match. This was okay. There were some pretty cool power moves and a few false finish type things. John Cena got the win with the AA through the table. That set up the final fall: the ambulance match. This was pretty sweet. Ryback put Cena through the announce table, then carried his carcass over to the ambulance. Just when he thought he was gonna throw him in the back, Cena Irish whipped him into the ambulance door. He then used that, and several other parts of the vehicle as a weapon on him. They finished the night with another great visual spot. Cena gave him the Attitude Adjustment, putting him straight through the roof of the ambulance. The crowd were fairly dead, but this was a very solid main event, especially considering the performers in question, and the acts they had to try and follow.
I don’t want to over hype it too much, so I suggest you watch it yourself. Nonetheless, in my opinion, this was one of the best PPVs of the calendar year and the Punk/Jericho match is candidate for match of the year. There were several great matches, and those that weren’t great were at least good. It was full of excitement and surprises. Returning superstars, spectacular sports and excellent work all round. I have to say this was fully worth the money and a really good job well done by WWE. Big kudos!
I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did. I hope you enjoyed the piece, even though it’s a bit long and rambling. It’s hard to keep a low word count when you’re a wrestling addict, writing about an amazing three hour wrestling event. Thanks for reading on, and for all of the support. Give us a like, comment, or a Follow. Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to check back for more words about wrestling. There is an article uploaded every day.