Welcome to the Payback pre-show. Getting right to it, having little-to-no faith in these two superstars, Dolph Ziggles defeated Bacon Rorbin by… Roll up. Yep.
Nice to see Ziggler actually win a match, but the Andre Memorial winner gets a lame drop.
Our United States Championship match was brief, and to the point. Ryback was the definitive powerhouse, even chucking Kalisto sky high with a second rope bench press slam. However, never underestimate the little guy, as Kalisto surprised Ryback with the quick pinfall victory.
Our opening match featuring some comedy from The New Day, and our contestants, The Vaudevillians vs. Enzo and Big Cass.
Serious mode. As you know by now, Enzo took a nasty fall, injured, and the match was abruptly stopped. Referees rushed out, the EMTs, the real ones, and a stretcher rushed Enzo to an ambulance waiting to take him to the hospital. We were talking possible neck injury, or worse. These guys from NXT, they put on one hell of a show. Every week, proving they have what it takes to be on the main roster and to be considered the future of the WWE. The NXT roster has upped the standard and broken all glass ceilings in the company. Unfortunately, in many matches, whether fast paced, or slow and methodical, accidents happen. Wrestling might be scripted, but the pain is all too real. Like in any sport, accidents can happen and thankfully the crew responded very quickly and professionally to take care of one of their own.
Gotch threw Enzo against the ropes, resulting with Enzo hitting and landing hard, awkwardsly against the mat. A very unfortunate incident with many worried, as initially, he was not moving. We learned during the next match, he was moving and talking, giving everyone the chance to collectively breathe relief.
Best wishes go out to Enzo Amore.
Our first match of the night is easily a match of the year contender. Kevin Owens defeats Sami Zayn in a match I can only describe as awesome, amazing… Perfect. The flow was unparalleled, the storytelling was dead on fantastic. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The ending was perfect. The back and forth exchanges were unbelievable. I really want to say more, but I am at a loss of words to describe the sheer amazement, no holding back from either one. It was a performance, a story, a work of art.
Following that match, Kevin Owens berates and intimidates Byron Saxton in the ring, cuts a great promo about his win, one-on-one, fair and clean. Byron mentions how the Intercontinental Championship match is next, and Owens then steals Saxton’s seat and joins the team on commentary. The commentary is fantastic. Owens is awesome. The match between Miz and Cesaro is also spot-on damn entertaining. I have to give a lot of credit to them, Cesaro pulled off some fantastic spots, Miz ate some hard hits throughout the match. The conclusion of the match was a bit interesting, obviously setting up a larger match in the future, as Sami Zayn returned to attack Kevin Owens, their fight nearly spilling in the ring, distracting Cesaro and the referee, allowing Miz to roll up Cesaro with tights to retain the championship.
Up next, we are updated on some improvements regarding Enzo at the hospital. Good news.
Up next, Dean Ambrose earns a hard-fought victory over Chris Jericho. Not the best match of the night, but certainly a good one. Ambrose had the upper hand at the start, until Chris Jericho gains control and seems to deliver a beat down on Ambrose, and these two also tell a great story, with Jericho working so angry throughout the match. Anyone notice it says GOAT on Jericho’s tights? In any case, after fighting out of two Walls of Jericho, the Lunatic Fringe manages to trap Y2J in a butterfly lock, leading to the Dirty Deeds DDT.
The Women’s Championship Match. Sigh. This was a good match. Not the best showing from both, as there were too many trademark submission attempts and a lot of rest holds. The first few minutes were great, however the action slowed a bit too abruptly. Bret Hart being there was great to see. It was great to see him up and about, being able to just be present. It did have a main event feel, but there were a lot of teases for Natalya to win, to a point where it was “well, is this going to finish now?” The finish itself, was a copy and paste of the 1997 Montreal Screwjob, because I guess whenever a Hart is involved, WWE just can’t come up with anything better. This time, they are likely going with Charles “Little Naitch” Robinson as Ric Flair’s lackey as the culprit. Bummer. Charlotte retains the WWE Women’s Championship after Robinson calls for the bell when she locks in the Sharpshooter on Natalya, who, obviously, didn’t tap out.
Next up, Vince McMahon comes to the ring, and endures some very loud CM PUNK chants. VERY LOUD. Vince tries to cut his promo, but is not able to do it, and starts bantering with the crowd. Not sure if he is just going along or got legit pissed. Stephanie and Shane come out to plead their cases to control RAW, and we wind up with Vince deciding they should both run the show. Well, that was a waste of time.
Before our main event, Michael Cole brings us the news Enzo Amore suffered a severe concussion, but all other test results came up negative, meaning that seems to be the worst of it. The recap and replay what happened. Interesting they do that, usually they try to avoid replays and show what happened, but kudos to WWE for bringing a sense of realism and importance to the show, that these injuries can, and do happen.
Our main event, features Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles and a live crowd booing Reigns out of the building. They actually do have a pretty good match. Reigns plays the aggressor very well, with Styles going for broke on all his moves, pulling out some pretty high risk dives. We get a fantastic spot where Styles puts Reigns through an announce table with a Phenomenal Forearm. This results in AJ winning by Count Out. Count Out. See, I would have been OK with this, because I don’t recall the last time a main event championship match ended with a count out. Except Shane McMahon makes his way out, and restarts it, decreeing it a no count out. Guess what, Reigns winds up low blowing Styles, accident or not, and Styles wins again by DQ. Guess what? Stephanie McMahon now comes out to restart, making it a No DQ match. Saw that coming, didn’t ya? In the end, we got an exchange of finish attempts, the inevitable interference by Gallows and Anderson, The Usos, Styles hitting numerous finishers, but could not put Reigns down. An attempted Styles Clash fails, and Reigns connects with the Spear for the pinfall victory.
Backstage: Vince congratulates Shane and Steph on working together, who announce AJ Styles will get another chance at the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules. Shame the main event had to pander to yet another McMahon fueled storyline.