Thumbs Up. Probably Show of the Year. Super hot crowd. Chicago is the best city for pro-wrestling. Even better than Osaka. Just when people were raving about NXT and doubting the main roster WWE delivered this great show. My only complaint is that I started watching on my PS3 and got some lagging, but then switched to my laptop and worked perfect.
Best Match: Cena vs. Wyatt. Excellent all the way with all kind of high spots.
Worst Match: None. I like this show so much than I wouldn't give a worst match.
1. Torito vs Hornswoggle. This wasn't at the level of their previous match but it was fine. **1/2
2. Sheamus vs Cesaro. I really liked this match. The finish came out of nowhere but it was well executed. None of the announcer brought the fact that the finish was the same move that in the Steamboat/Flair 25 years ago in the same city. Heyman's promo on the post-show was awesome. ****
3. Ryback & Axel vs Cody & Goldust. I'm not a fan of "surprise" matches on PPVs but it was a good match and the crowd was into it. ***
4. Rusev vs Big E. Too short to be something but what they did was fine. Big E taking a german suplex is just another example of how athletic the guys in the roster are. **
5. Barrett vs RVD. Good match but RVD can't keep up with the pace of the young guys anymore. The announcers failed again: Barrett did the diving elbow to the outside, a Mick Foley trademark spot and a killer move by itself, and none of them even notice. ***
-Stephanie, Bryan & Brie segment. What an awesome segment. The reaction to Bryan was unreal. Stephanie was perfect and totally handed it to the crowd with the Punk remark.
6. Cena vs Wyatt. A war. Bray finally earned my respect in the ring. The way he took the flying ring steps looked like he broke his arm. It had to many distractions for my taste, but it was still great. ****1/4
7. Paige vs Alicia. What they did was solid but in that position they didn't have a chance. It would have been so much better just by putting right before the Cena match. *1/2
8. Shield vs Evolution. The concept of the match was confusing. No hold barred means no tags necessary but because of the elimination tag were needed. Crowd wasn't as hot for it. Think the fans were spent after the Cena match, plus the way this was constructed it was all Evolution until the finish. Roman took a beating, he against HHH it almost a guarantee. ****
Leonardo II Mendez
San Sebastian, PR
Thumbs up for WWE Payback. The show overachieved as a result of a motivated locker room bringing their A game and feeding off a fun and rabid crowd.
Best match; Surprisingly, Wyatt Vs. Cena.
Worst match; Nothing offensive, but if forced to pick one, I would say Fox Vs. Page.
Cesaro Vs. Shemus: I thought they would deliver, and they confirmed my belief. No rest holds, no slow downs. Just two, big, physically imposing, and equally tough brutes beating the living hell out of each other. Intelligent choice for an opener, as Heyman quelled the expected CM Punk support and shifted the focus to where it belongs, on the show and the wrestlers. I was somewhat surprised at the outcome, but I am glad they decided on a clean finish, instead of the often obligatory “shady” and inconclusive finish. Many will provide the credit to Cesaro, but Shemus deserves his piece of the pie as well.
Rybaxel Vs. The Brotherhood: I find it frustrating when people complain about unscheduled matches at the PPV. Why not put a little more sizzle and seasoning on the show. Especially if it quickens the pace between matches, keeps the momentum of the show on the up and up, and still leaves adequate time for the main event matches. To be honest, this match seemed quite pedestrian until the hot tag to Cody. The hot tag led to a hot finish with some nice counters and the twists and turns that are the specialty of a 20 year veteran (That being Goldust. Who I am quite certain takes the lead in putting these moving parts in place.) Another loss for the Rhodes brothers and subsequently, another chapter in the program leading to an expected feud between the two. A feud that I for one am still looking forward to, even if it feels about 6 months too late.
Rusev Vs. Big E. A quick TV style match that fulfilled its purpose and gave the fans two “wow” moments to pop for. Based on the reactions witnessed in the last week, I believe the WWE thought this match would suffer from lack of heat. So, they did the smart thing. Keep it quick. Keep the pace fast. And cater to the specialty of both men, that being IMPACT. I do have some fear for the future of Big E. I like the guy and do not want to see him fall off the map. I believe some sort of character development is needed.
Bo Dallas Vs. Kofi Kingston. I get it. Keeping Kane involved and relevant is important and developing the obnoxious demeanor of Bo is on the agenda. A Raw segment the next night could have fulfilled both requirements, but the thought was the Chi town crowd could provide a more feverous reaction to the Bo character. With that said, I don’t think any of the other matches suffered from lack of time allocation. This was harmless if not unnecessary.
RVD Vs. Wade Barrett. I love me some RVD, but this time around, he has been slow to regain his stride. That was most certainly the case at the beginning of the match. The crowd was forgiving, and instead of turning on the match (which modern day crowds have a tendency to do) they gave the superstars a chance and allowed them to find a rhythm and a turn this into a solid outing.
The Daniel Bryan decision. This turned into a pretty entertaining segment. With a hot crowd and a hated villain, the conditions were present for a memorable presentation. Each member of the trio involved played their role well and the crowd provided a favorable setting.
Cena Vs. Bray Wyatt. I will, and you should, eat our words and admit our doubts. Much like the wrestling observer staff, JR, and numerous other prominent wrestling personalities, I had harsh words about the feud and a lack of interest in this match. My bad. Based on the crowd reaction, which was white hot from the outset, the crowd was into the feud and into the match. The addition of the Wyatt family and the Usos in the match was smart and it worked. My biggest complaint about the previous matches in this feud, and my biggest fear about this match given the last man standing stipulation, was the lackadaisical pacing. These guys set the pace. And that pace was fast. During the match, I got a strong Mankind vibe from Wyatt. His reckless abandon for his health and his toughness was more than impressive. Finish could have been better, but after what was witnessed and the effort put in by all involved, I would feel guilty complaining too much.
Alicia Fox Vs. Page. These ladies were put in a really tough position. With that said, they went out and put on a decent performance. They even managed to elicit some crowd response. The match was rough initially, but by the end, it was ok.
The Shield Vs. Evolution. Good match. I would not say it was on par with the match at Extreme Rules, but it contained some memorable spots and some good story telling. The goal was to put over the “All for one, and one for all” (Yes, like the Three Musketeers) mentality of the Shield. That goal was accomplished and the end scene picture of all three members of the Shield standing over the body of the fallen king was a fitting end to a good show.
Thumbs up for Payback. Once again, this was a show that I would have easily skipped, like last month's, if not for the Network. Yet, both shows had weak cards, and they both turned out great. Hard to pick a best match between Cena vs Wyatt and the Shield vs Evolution. I think I will lean for the Shield because it was great to see HHH get pinned. All matches were pretty entertaining though.
Best match: Shield vs Evolution
Worst match: Kofi vs Bo Dallas
Best Match: Evolution vs. Shield
Worst Match: Divas title
Dave, you said that Cena vs. Wyatt was a match of the year candidate. It wasn't even match of the show. Don't get me wrong; it was a good match, but nowhere near Match of the Year.
Great State of Maine
Best match: The Shield vs. Evolution
Worst Match: None
What an incredible show. Everybody clearly felt the pressure to follow Takeover, and they did. The minis match was what it was. It wouldn't be the worst idea in the world to bring some more minis in and have a division. Cesaro vs. Sheamus was pretty good. I would have reversed the outcome, but no big deal. Tag team match was good. I like the Rhodes brothers as a team, but if they have it in their head they can't push more than one babyface team at a time in the tag division, they should probably split up. Rusev vs. Big E was short and sweet. I hope Big E doesn't think giving extra effort and doing that spear spot is going to get him a push. That's the kind of thing that put Ziggler in prelim prison. That, and being Nikki Bella's ex. I don't give a damn what Billy Graham says, I love Bo Dallas' gimmick. It's a spoof of Cena, who disgusts me, and it's great. I Bolieve. Kofi can go hybernate until they need a cute spot for a battle royal. Bad News vs. RVD was a solid match. Hopefully they continue to give Bad News an honest push, and the Intercontinental title can be rehabbed. The best way to do that would be a merger though. The Daniel Bryan segment was good, and if this gets Bryan away from Brie on camera, I'm all for it. He is associated with fighting, scratching, and clawing his way to the top through hard work and perseverance. The Bella Twins are gold digging bikini models who came back for the reality show. Once that is cancelled, they're gone. And to the best of my knowledge, while Daniel Bryan was under the knife, she was at the NBC up fronts. Because they couldn't have done them without the Bellas. Way to stand by your man. Go away please. Cena vs. Wyatt was a match of the year contender. Hurling the steps at Wyatt like a javelin looked sick. Numerous great spots. Usos are great. Wyatts are great. Cena...meh. He's good in this type of match. Wyatt should have gone over, but Cena has been so damaged by this program, I thought it was okay he won here. Wyatt is still going to be a major star. If this doesn't win worst feud of the year, it's because this match saved it. And because tna exists. Avoid Cena's promo tomorrow at all costs, because you know their will be smiles and jokes galore. Women's match was in the death spot, until they change the way they present them, the audience won't take them seriously. I love Paige though, and Alicia Fox is finally doing something, so that's cool. The six man match was unbelievable. I like that Evolution got Reigns alone and inflicted all the damage they said they would, yet still protected The Shield. That was great, and unexpected. Reigns' back looked like hell. They could not have possibly put The Shield over any stronger than they did here. Between this show, and nxt Takeover, I think this is the best week of programming the company has ever done. I have no idea what direction they go in now, but they have tremendous talent.
Buena Park, Ca
Best Match: Cena/Wyatt
A solid, but unspectacular show. I liked the last man standing match, but I didn't think it was a MOTY. Not being sarcastic, I don't know as much as Meltzer, so I will defer to him. I liked the 6-man tag. Tomorrow should give a better indication of the direction.
One of the reasons I didn't see Cena/Wyatt as a MOTY is because it seemed like they pulled out all the tricks. That's why I liked NXT Takeover so much. It was straight wrestling with time for telling stories in a relatively safe, yet exciting style. It seemed refreshing. Everything old is new again.
Batista's gear was a rib, right? If it was, Dave is a genius. Although he seemed really winded tonight.
Rating: Thumbs in the Middle
Best Match: Evolution vs. The Shield
Worst Match: Paige vs. Alicia Fox
My WWE Network stream froze up a few times for a few seconds at a time throughout the event. That I could handle, but it completely froze up on me right after Orton was pinned and then skipped ahead to after Triple H was pinned. The glitchiness reminded me of NXT Arrival right after the network first launched -- I thought they had this stuff fixed by now. I would wonder if it was my internet connection, but a quick scan of Twitter shows I'm not alone in having this happen.
The show was what I expected, something I never would have paid to watch on PPV but an event I gladly watched as part of the network. There were some impressive spots, particularly the Big E diving tackle on Rusev through the ropes to the floor, not to mention the dangerous-looking weapon shots in the Cena/Wyatt match and the main event.
The effort was there and there was nothing horrid on the show (they saved that for the pre-show with the unfunny WWE brand of comedy), but by the same token no match stood out as anything truly special, particularly following the fantastic NXT Takeover show on Thursday night. On a show headlined by retread matches and without Daniel Bryan wrestling, it was hard for anything to stand out as unique, particularly in this era with such a glut of first-run WWE programming being produced on a weekly basis.
Payback: Thumbs Up
Best Match: Shield vs. Evolution
Worst Match: Torito vs. Hornswoggle
I am not a fan of the feud between Torito and Horny and while some may be entertained this was not what I want to see. Sheamus vs. Cesaro was a good way to start the actual show. Don't like seeing Cesaro lose though. Goldust & Cody vs. Rybaxel was pretty good. Just kind of filler, but it was fine. Not sure where they are going with Cody walking off without really turning on his brother. No first name Rusev vs. Big E no last name was good for what it was. I like Big E's intensity, but he is stuck in a bad spot right now. Rusev wins. Not sure if anyone will actually ever care about him. On the bright side there is Lana. Kofi vs. Bo Dallas was a non match. I guess Kane is not a Kofi fan. Barrett vs. RVD was another pretty good match. Barrett wins as he should. Hope he continues on his winning path. Daniel Bryan is still Champion and his wife has apparently "quit" before Stephanie could fire her. So really nothing was resolved. Hope Bryan returns to action sooner than later. Stephanie running off is kind of weird. She's been in worse situations than being slapped. Really good long match with Cena and Wyatt. Not sure what Wyatt does next after losing again. It was well done for sure with some wild spots. Paige retains over Alicia Fox. They had a decent match. I like Paige and hopefully she at least runs for a while before A.J. comes back to get her rematch. Another great match with Evolution and the Shield. Time was running late and I thought they might not have a conclusion or try to run it over to get people to want the Network although that would piss off whatever they have left of a ppv audience. Shield wins. I guess Evolution is done for now. Good show.
Best Match: Shield vs. Evolution, but just edging Cena vs. Wyatt
Worst Match: Paige vs. Alicia Fox
I'll have to pick up from Rusev vs. Big E as I did not get home in time to see Sheamus vs. Cesaro and Rhodes Brothers vs. AxelBack.
Rusev vs. Big E
Match wasn't much. Expected the finish. Cool spot with Big E spearing Rusev from the apron to the floor. **
Kofi Kingston vs. Bo Dallas
King's commentary saying Bo was worthy of being on PPV after only two matches was pure comedy. No match with Kane destroying Kofi. Crowd didn't care much. Neither did I. But again Bo is great giving the losers pep talks.
Bad News Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam for Intercontinental Title
Fun match. Very wise putting it just before the real money matches. Good finish with Barrett pinning RVD with his move.
Daniel Bryan's Decision
Great segment. Curious as to how they get Brie back in the storyline. Vince maybe? Who knows. But Brie slapping Stephanie after she quit was a great spot. Crowd ate it up.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt Last Man Standing
Awesome match. Really exceeded expectations. The high spots kept the match going strong. Crowd never lost interest. Harper superplexing an Uso through the tables was an insane spot. I didn't think the finish was all that great, but I'll take it. This feud finally ends on a bang. ****
Paige vs. Alicia Fox for the Divas Title
Why this didn't go in the first hour is beyond me. Poor girls had to go on after a match they had no way of living up to. Not their faults that this was the worst match on the show, but what can you do? **
Shield vs. Evolution No Holds Barred Elimination
Another awesome match to finish the show. Very smart to keep from doing any eliminations until the very end. Really thought they were going to make Reigns into a star when Evolution ganged up on it. Didn't really happen, but still all three members of Shield looked good. Finish was exactly what it should have been. Shield came off as big stars at the end. ****