Calling the Spots: Payback 2015
Well, we can’t say that the network hasn’t delivered this month. Between the returns of the King of the Ring tournament and the Elimination Chamber, Payback is actually starting to look like the C-list event. That being said, the card has some notable matches line up, if only in a we’ve-got-nothing-to-lose-so-lets-just-try-it-out kind of way. Like Extreme Rules, Payback is a bit of a placeholder PPV, which means it has an equal chance of being great or being a bit of a let-down. So here’s hoping that the card turns out alright.
Diva Tag-Team Match: Naomi and Tamina vs. The Bella Twins
Seriously, why does Nikki Bella still have the Diva’s belt? She’s not exactly a fighting champion and rarely puts on a great show. Honestly, Brie is better. That being said, the Bellas have always been better as a team, so even though the belt may not be on the line this could end up as a memorable affair. I’m not 100% sold on Naomi as a singles-star, especially as a heel, but I’m digging Tamina’s return and would love to see them shake up the Divas bracket. Since the strap isn’t on the line, I’m calling a win for Naomi and Tamina on this one.
What I think will happen: Naomi and Tamina will get a win over the Bellas
What I hope happens: Creative gives up on booking Nikki Bella as a babyface. I’m not buying it and she is simply tailor-made to be a heel.
Tag-Team Championship: The New Day vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd
Usually I get fed-up with long-running feuds. I get sick of seeing the same match over and over. But when it comes to The New Day and Cesaro and Kidd, I can watch that stuff all day. Every time the match gets a little more interesting, and between New Day’s antics, Cesaro’s feats of strength and Kidd’s athleticism, this one will undoubtedly be an interesting affair. New Day has too much momentum to lose the belts at this point, so it’s likely that they will heel-win to hold on to the belts.
What I think will happen: The New Day’s run with the tag-team belts will continue into the Elimination Chamber.
What I hope happens: Honestly, there’s nothing more to hope for here. We’ve seen this show before and while it may always be interesting, there’s no denying that it’s not exactly new.
Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt
This one is pretty open and shut. Wyatt is due for a win, and Ryback is expendable enough to do the J.O.B. Creative has been trying to push Ryback as a big-ticket contender for a few month’s now, and while I have no real qualms against him getting the spotlight, I believe that Wyatt is simply more “due” at this point. The guy can put on great matches and is electrifying in his promos, and he really needs to get the “spotlight-level” push into the main-event picture. So, my prediction is more “fan-based” on this one, but I’m pulling for Bray on this one.
What I think will happen: Bray Wyatt will get the win over Ryback
What I hope happens: The Wyatt family is reunited by the end of Payback. Harper and Rowan are already teaming up again, so we’re nearly there.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus
Another carry-over from last month that I’m just not feeling. The components are perfectly fine (Ziggler is always great, and Sheamus is much better as a heel), but the feud feels like it’s lacking any real motivating factors. Here’s hoping that the performance makes up for the lack in storytelling.
What I think will happen: This one could go either way, but I think Ziggler will maintain his win-streak for the easy crowd reaction.
What I hope happens: Sheamus does something to further distinguish himself as THE mid-card heel. He’s right on the precipice and just needs a little extra push.
Bad News Barrett vs. Neville
Keeping up with the carry-over. Like Ziggler and Sheamus, this one has the right parts but not much in the tank. It’ll be a fun match to watch for sure, but without the emotional connection there really isn’t much to grasp on to this time. As for a winner, Creative may have big plans for Neville, but with a lack of strong heels Barrett needs to keep looking strong, especially considering that he’s a strong contender to pick up Bryant’s vacated Intercontinental Championship at the Elimination Chamber.
What I think will happen: Barrett will maintain his position over Neville.
What I hope happens: Creative gives Neville the chance to actually develop his character on the main roster. Since his debut I don’t think I’ve heard him say one word.
United States Championship Match: Rusev vs. John Cena
Talk about a no-win scenario. Either Rusev (a great up-and-coming heel) looks really weak after losing three-straight to Cena, or Cena drops the title in an I Quit match, which really undermines his entire character. It seems pretty inevitable that Cena will keep the streak alive at the end of this one, since it would cost the company way more if he were damaged than Rusev. Unfortunately, Rusev will be feeling the sting of some rookie blues after getting wrapped up in a Cena-feud.
What I think will happen: Cena will defeat Rusev one last time.
What I hope happens: Honestly, that Rusev steals the win and the belt.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Orton vs. Rollins vs. Reigns vs. Ambrose
This is THE match for Payback, and honestly it seems like a perfect mousetrap. While Cena and Rusev may be a worse-case scenario, this one is almost perfect in that there is no negative outcome that I can see. No matter who wins, everyone will be happy. Rollins is the obvious choice to retain: he’s a great villain, and the fans want to see him get plastered by a returning Lesnar at Summerslam. However, Orton could easily carry the company as the champion going forward. He’s done it in the past and he’s done it well, and he’s been on a great run since Mania. Ambrose was added to the match fairly late, and while I think he may be the least-likely candidate, there is no denying that the fans are behind him and would love to see him on top. Personally, I see him more as an Intercontinental champ, though. Finally, there’s Roman Reigns. He’s been put through the ringer this year. Booed mercilessly at Rumble, full-on assaulted at Mania by Lesnar, and having his belt stolen by former-friend Rollins (likely as a last-minute measure to save the Mania finish). Between all of those things and the great documentary on the WWE Network (available here for free this month), Reigns’ has gone a long way to winning the fans over to the point that he finally seems like a believable champion. And there’s easy writing for Reigns vs. Lesnar 2 at Summerslam, which would make for a big-ticket affair.
What I think will happen: I think that Payback will be Reigns’ moment to shine and finally get his hands on the WWE Championship.
What I hope happens: RKOs! RKOs for everyone!