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WWE Payback: Wrestling Preview & Predictions

WWE Payback

The weird thing about tonight's WWE Payback event on the WWE Network is that it’s pretty much a reboot of WWE storylines. Literally nothing that happened at WrestleMania, aside from Roman Reigns winning the WWE title, was followed through the next night on Raw. AJ Styles, who had lost his match at WrestleMania for no real reason, won a number one contenders match for the WWE title. The hook to this match is an interesting one - Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have made their debut, and so far it seems that they are aligned with Styles. Or are they? Their attacks to Reigns and his family helps AJ’s momentum, but is it to help him or themselves?

Vince McMahon will also be at Payback. The night following WrestleMania, he inexplicably gave control of Raw to Shane McMahon even though he lost to the Undertaker the previous night, further proving stipulations in WWE absolutely don’t matter one bit. Vince, because I don’t know, now has to choose between Stephanie and Shane for control of Raw. Typing that made me feel like I’m back in the year 2000, by the way. So who will it be - Shane? Stephanie? Maybe both? Anything can happen!

Staff Roundtable:

Kalisto vs. Ryback

WWE United States Champion Kalisto vs. Ryback

Bryan Rose: Ryback I guess? I don’t even know why they didn’t do it last month. Both guys have barely existed post-Wrestlemania.

    Winner: Ryback

PeachMachine: I guess I’ll take Rybaxel. That’s still a thing, right?

    Winner: Rybaxel

Karl Stern:  Ryback.  Sooner or later (later apparently) they are going to go with the Vince McMahon Prototype Wrestler.

    Winner: Ryback

James Cox: The status quo to remain despite this being a very stale title picture.

    Winner: Kalisto

Alan O’Brien: I forecasted Kalisto to lose to both Del Rio and Ryback at the last two PPVs; expect him to drop the strap here then, now that I’m finally giving him my backing! The company have been keen to put the babyface over in recent pre-show matches. Therefore, despite the fact that they are doing nothing with the guy on TV, I can see the Lucha Dragon going over here again.

    Winner: Kalisto

Steve Khan: This company’s use of Kalisto is so bizarre. I figured he’d win at Mania, but I didn’t think he’d fall off the map while he was still champion. I can’t envision him beating Ryback again, and they might as well change this meaningless title.

    Winner: The Ryback

Kyle S. Johnson: You know what? I’m just going to flip a coin. It does not matter in the slightest.

    Winner: Ryback

Gary Mehaffy: Ryback. Why not?

    Winner: Ryback

Brian Hoops: The US Title has fallen so far since Cena elevated it a year ago.

    Winner: Kalisto

Ziggler vs. Corbin

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Bryan Rose: Corbin. Has a better upside at this point. Dolph had his moments a few years ago, but the most interesting thing about him right now is how bizarre his wardrobe gets with each passing month.

    Winner: Baron Corbin

PeachMachine: Someone on WWE creative said, “We need a first name for this Ziggler character… Let’s see, Vince is a big fan of Hitler, but that’s too ‘on the nose’ and so is Adolph…” And then Vince said, “Goddam! I love it!”

    Winner: Dolph

Karl Stern:  I can never remember who is on the “Already gave up on team”. I know Dolph is already on it so I’m assuming Baron Corbin.

    Winner:  Baron Corbin

James Cox: I don't think this really matters as booking these days seems to be largely random, but obviously Baron Corbin should be winning this. But equally he can lose and they can still out over his trophy, I suppose.

    Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Alan O’Brien: I don’t see any real doubt surrounding this result; Ziggler’s role in the company is to put flavours of the month like Corbin over strong. And that’s what he’ll do on Sunday.

    Winner: Baron Corbin

Steve Khan: I’ve enjoyed Corbin since being brought up, and he should very obviously win this match clean in the middle. I suppose they could do a double DQ or something, but Corbin hasn’t beaten anyone significant since Mania, so…

    Winner: Baron Corbin

Kyle S. Johnson: This feud seems tailor-made to give Corbin an early singles win over a superstar of some substance. The Lone Wolf probably steamrolls Ziggler in a match that goes a bit longer than it needs to, positioning him as a dominant figure for his next feud.

    Winner: Baron Corbin

Gary Mehaffy: Baron Corbin will get what is left of the ‘Vince’ treatment and be given a few pushes. Ziggler’s job these days is simply that - job.

    Winner: Baron Corbin

Brian Hoops:  So far, they have pushed Corbin nearly perfectly, losing here to Ziggler makes no sense.

    Winner:  Baron Corbin

Miz vs. Cesaro

WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Cesaro

Bryan Rose: I’m thinking The Miz. Way too early to take it off Miz, plus his new gimmick with Maryse kind of works. Just cut the lame movie line references in promos as it’s totally cringeworthy.

    Winner: Miz

PeachMachine: The Miz sucks. Why is he still employed? He’s not a bad wrestler, but he gives guys the opposite of “the rub” which I guess would be “the stench.”

    Winner: Miz

Karl Stern:  The Miz right? I mean obviously Cesaro should win so it has to be Miz if I follow my WWE Booking Handbook correctly.

    Winner:  Miz

James Cox: The Miz doesn't need this title and he's a fairly poor wrestler fronting it. Cesaro is so wonderful and should be champion. I can see this one continuing. Maryse to help Miz retain.

    Winner: Miz

Alan O’Brien: They’ve flipped the title too much recently. Expect a Maryse assist to help Miz to retain and set up a return match at Extreme Rules in three weeks time.

    Winner: The Miz

Steve Khan: Ideally, Cesaro would win and they can just pretend the stuff with Ryder and Miz never happened the last month. I think Cesaro will win the title eventually, just not yet.

    Winner: Cesaro (via DQ - The Miz retains)

Kyle S. Johnson: The booking of the Intercontinental Championship has been so wacky this past month. Taking it off of a strong champion in Kevin Owens to give Zack Ryder a completely out-of-left-field Wrestlemania moment, only to then put it on The Miz of all people one night later suggests that this belt is back on the back-burner again (but still just a skosh above the U.S. Championship). Cesaro would get a nice boost by winning the IC title here and putting on some good matches with the likes of Jericho, Zayn, Owens, Styles, etc. as champion. But with two title swaps in the last 30 days already, this feud probably needs to be drawn out a bit longer before the belt changes hands again. I would really hope that they would not have The Miz pin Cesaro and kill the guy’s momentum for the umpteenth time, even if it’s with the dreaded distraction roll-up, so let’s say Maryse jumps in at the last second and saves her husband from losing the belt for another month. Let’s just hope that any such intervening period of time would not see Vince change his mind about Cesaro yet again.

    Winner: Cesaro (disqualification)

Gary Mehaffy: Miz to win via distraction from Maryse, and Cesaro wins the rematch and the title on Raw on Monday.

    Winner: Miz

Brian Hoops:  Too early to take the title off Miz and his act is so much better off with the addition of Maryse. Cesaro would be better at elevating the title but interference leading to Miz retaining makes sense.

    Winner:  Miz

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho

Bryan Rose: This should be good, but at the same time I kinda don’t care. Ambrose I think lost tons by doing to the job to Lesnar and I truly feel like his stock has fallen. Jericho is fine but doesn’t necessarily make this match interesting. I say Jericho as there’s more of an upside for him as a future Roman Reigns opponent.

    Winner: Chris Jericho

PeachMachine: Finally we get a real match. I expect this one to be the show stealer. I know everyone is thinking the next one will steal it, but Jericho will be motivated. What? I can’t make them all into jokes.

    Match: Y2J

Karl Stern: Jericho has been on quite a streak this year.  Dean Ambrose has been on a streak of his own... only a different kind of.

    Winner:  Chris Jericho

James Cox: Ambrose should be a top babyface but this losing streak is killing him. Clearly, Jericho wants to work with him, so this could go over a couple of ppvs.

    Winner: Dean Ambrose

Alan O’Brien: Dean needs a big win to reestablish him after getting his ass handed to him in the Brock feud. Jericho will be the man to provide it.

    Winner: Dean Ambrose

Steve Khan: This should be great, but it's tough to call thanks to Jericho’s recent run. Jericho cheating to win would be an easy way to keep the feud going, but he’s gotten the better of Ambrose too many times recently, and Ambrose is due for a win.

    Winner: Dean Ambrose

Kyle S. Johnson: Jericho is really finding his stride here as the 40-year-old guy who thinks he’s still in his 20s and is increasingly bitter about all the new internet/indie darlings who have taken his place in the hearts and minds of one-time Jericoholics. Dean Ambrose is still wacky Dean Ambrose, and he gained absolutely nothing from that match with Brock Lesnar. Dean will get the win here, and Jericho will do everything he can to make the guy look like a million bucks.

    Winner: Dean Ambrose

Gary Mehaffy: I’m really looking forward to this match. JEricho won his match at ‘Mania against AJ, so Dean will win this one, in preparation for reuniting (in a way) with Seth when he returns.

    Winner: Dean Ambrose

Brian Hoops: Ambrose badly needs a win to maintain credibility after failing against Triple H and Brock Lesnar. Jericho is a smart enough heel veteran to get his heat back on the microphone and build up a rematch next month.

    Winner: Dean Ambrose

Zayn vs. Owens Payback

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

Bryan Rose: Should be really interesting where they go. This doesn’t have a feeling of a one match feud, so whatever it is I’m guessing it’s by DQ or count out. I say Owens wins this one, and should be a really good match if given time

    Winner: Kevin Owens

PeachMachine: I hate the name Sami. I’m sick and tired of people putting their own spin on a simple name. Like jerks who use a Y instead of an I, not that I can think of any examples off hand...

    Winner: The fans (Sniiiiiiifffff)

Karl Stern:  I’m not sure about this one at all.  I assume it will be Kevin Owens.  Both seem like the kind of guys WWE will eventually bury to spite fans so what happens when two favorites wrestle?  I want to call this some sort of non-finish.  No contest, double DQ, something like that.  But if pressed for an answer I suppose Kevin Owens.

    Winner:  Kevin Owens

James Cox: Another really strong match. This feud can go as long as they need it to. I think Owens wins in chicken shit heel fashion.

    Winner: Kevin Owens

Alan O’Brien: No chance that Zayn wins the first match of this feud, which I expect to at least run as far as, if not beyond, Extreme Rules. Owens wins by nefarious means, to continue Sami’s losing streak.

    Winner: Kevin Owens

Steve Khan: I hope they have a hell of a match, because they need new stars and both of these guys are fully capable of carrying the ball. It’s too early for Zayn to win, but I don’t see Owens beating him either. Perhaps a double countout or double DQ that leads to a gimmick match.

    Winner: Sami Zayn (via DQ)

Kyle S. Johnson: I am really looking forward to seeing these guys go at it once again, and I sincerely hope that this feud carries on for another month or so beyond this show. I could foresee Owens getting flash pinned and getting his heat back immediately with a beat-down, but Owens probably needs the win here more for the sake of protection. If Owens does get this win, it will probably be through some kind of underhanded tactic that will set up a match with a stipulation for Extreme Rules.

    Winner: Kevin Owens

Gary Mehaffy: Again, this should be a superb match if they are given enough time. There will either be a countout or DQ to end the match, with Sami getting his hand raised.

    Winner: Sami Zayn

Brian Hoops: This could be the feud of the year if allowed to fully develop and given time. For that to happen, Owens has to win early so Zayn can be in the babyface position of chasing Owens and getting revenge.

    Winner: Kevin Owens

Charlotte vs. Natalya

WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (w/ Bret Hart)

Bryan Rose: I think this will be given time and be a really good match. If they can have the kind of match they had at Road Block here at Payback, we’re in for a fun ride. If Charlotte is losing the title, I’m pretty sure it will be to Banks, so I say Charlotte retains this one.

    Winner: Charlotte

PeachMachine: Two of my personal heroes and inspirations in action here. One day I hope to achieve the respect and admiration of Natalya and Charlotte.

    Winner: Char-Char

Karl Stern:  I’m calling “Sins of the Father” on this one.  Ric Flair has been a little too... um... visible recently.  Not that WWE would take that out on Charlotte.  But they probably will.

    Winner:  Natalya

James Cox: Charlotte to retain despite the outstanding in-ring performer that Natalya is. It's nice to actually look forward to women’s matches; this will be good.

    Winner: Charlotte

Alan O’Brien: I know I’m going out on a limb, but I can see them giving Natalya - and the recently unwell Bret Hart - a moment here. If Nattie does win, I doubt she’ll hold the title for long, however; think of it as her Zack Ryder, thanks for taking so much crap over the years, moment.

    Winner: Natalya

Steve Khan: As much as I like Natalya, now isn’t the time for Charlotte to lose, and I doubt she will. I can see Ric Flair and Bret Hart causing a distraction allowing Charlotte to pick up the cheap win. Bret may not be in condition to do it, but I’m hoping he drops Flair with a punch.

    Winner: Charlotte

Kyle S. Johnson: Even on a stacked card, Natalya and Charlotte have a real opportunity to steal the show. Having Bret and Ric out there as their respective seconds will be a nice touch as well, recalling their excellent match at NXT Takeover in 2014. If the plan is to have Sasha swoop in by Summerslam to get her one-on-one with Charlotte, then it is within the realm of possibility that Natalya could get a one-month run as a token of appreciation for her loyalty, giving them an extra month or two to blow off this feud and build up to Sasha. That being said, if the end-goal is to put the belt on Sasha, then keeping Charlotte as strong as possible in the meantime should probably be the greater priority.

    Winner: Charlotte

Gary Mehaffy: These two mesh superbly, as anyone who has seen their previous outings will know. Charlotte will retain, but Bret will get to deck RIc after the match.

    Winner: Charlotte

Brian Hoops: These two have great chemistry together and should have a fantastic match. No reason to change the title here as the long term goal should be to elevate whoever eventually beats Charlotte to win the title.

    Winner: Charlotte

WWE Tag Tournament Final

WWE Tag Team Tournament Final: Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains

Bryan Rose: Amore and Cassady. This Vaudevillians act is death on the main roster.

    Winners: Enzo and Cass

PeachMachine: The Vaudvillains basically stole their act from me, as I can literally sing the entire “Modern Major General” song from the Pirates of Penzance and I learned it like a month before these clowns started using it. Fact.

    Winner: Enzore Emoji and Colin Delaney

Karl Stern:  While the Vaudevillians seem like a gimmick created soley for my amusement, I couldn’t imagine this being anything other than Amore & Cassady winning.

    Winner:  Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady

James Cox: Watching these poor NXT acts drowning on the main roster is pretty excruciating, but Enzo and Cass seem to at least be going somewhere through sheer force of personality.

    Winner: Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady

Alan O’Brien: For no other reason than that The New Day are babyfaces, I’m going with English and Gotch here; despite the fact that they have predictably flopped on the main roster thus far, with little to no reaction from live crowds. Expect to see the Dudleys interfere to cost our Jersey heroes.

    Winner: The Vaudevillains

Steve Khan: It’s kind of amazing how over Enzo & Cass have been since getting called up, so it’ll be even funnier/more depressing if they lose this match. The timing doesn’t seem right for Enzo & Cass vs. New Day, so the Vaudevillains can win here and that’s fine.

    Winner: The Vaudevillains

Kyle S. Johnson: A program between New Day and Enzo and Cass would be great for, say, Summerslam. Putting it on in May? Probably a bit too quick. The Vaudevillains, to the surprise of few, are not being well-received on the big stage. The brothers Dudley will probably cause Enzo to take the pinfall here (by distraction, no doubt), allowing Enzo and Cass to transition into a clear babyface vs. heel feud that will facilitate them continuing getting over with the audience. The Vaudevillains could get a chance to show the audience something in a feud with The New Day, but it feels almost as likely--if not more--that they will get chewed up and spit out by that team’s segment-chomping charisma. You’d hate to say that it may already be sink or swim time for Aiden and Simon, but it could very well be just that.

    Winner: The Vaudevillains

Gary Mehaffy: Enzo and Cass have the opportunity to get over in a huge way on the main roster. I genuinely mean that. If they are allowed time to gel with the crowd over the next couple of months even more than they already have then the sky is the limit. Unless Vince falls in love with Cass’ size even quicker than everyone thinks he will.

    Winner: Enzo/Cass

Brian Hoops:  Enzo and Cass are getting over and beating them only cuts off their momentum.

    Winner:  Enzo/Cass

Reigns vs. Styles

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles

Bryan Rose: Reigns! AJ isn’t getting it any time soon unless there’s a big shift in mentalities, which I don’t think is happening. As for what Gallows and Anderson do...there’s a turn, I feel. Just don’t know who turns on who. Interesting dynamic leading to this main event, at least.

    Winner: Roman Reigns

PeachMachine: I’m expecting a schmoz finish here with some sort of racist angle involving Kaz Hayashi and Sonny Ono’s tiny Japanese flag and Glacier using the Cryonic Kick. How crazy would that be?

    Winner: AJ Styles by DQ

Karl Stern:  Roman retains.  Now will he win?  I have no idea but he will retain the WWE championship.  AJ Styles could win via DQ or something involving Gallows & Anderson but Roman escapes with the title.

    Winner:  Roman Reigns

James Cox: The DQ finish seems too obvious. So I assume Reigns overcomes the distraction, wins and then gets beaten down. I love AJ Styles, though, for the record, he's such a pleasure to watch.

    Winner: Roman Reigns

Alan O’Brien: Roman will surely retain, given that he’s ‘The Guy’ and all. Expect to see Gallows and Anderson turn on Styles, with the possible addition of the debuting Finn Balor to oversee his destruction.

    Winner: Roman Reigns

Steve Khan: The big intrigue isn’t really over who will win (Reigns) but how they get there. The Bullet Club and the potential for a Finn Balor debut make this interesting. I don’t see Balor debuting just yet, but perhaps Gallows & Anderson will cost Styles the match by accident (or accidentally on purpose).

    Winner: Roman Reigns

Kyle S. Johnson: There are tons of scenarios that could play out here, but the least likely seems to be AJ walking out with the title. Whether you have the Good Brothers costing AJ intentionally or inadvertently, if they turn out to be the hired hands of The Authority or Vince or Shane, if they become members of the Roman Empire, or if they reveal that they are indeed the Balor Club (and Chicago would certainly make for a good venue to debut Finn), if it’s DQ or count-out or interference behind the referee’s back, the end result is almost certainly Roman holding onto the title. This has been a surprisingly engaging and intriguing story thus far; here’s hoping they take their time to tell it properly instead of hot-shotting a quarter’s worth of storyline in a few weeks.

    Winner: Roman Reigns

Gary Mehaffy: This has been really well set up, even if Raw’s ratings haven’t borne that out. Nobody really sees AJ winning - which could always lead to a swerve - but there’s no way Vince is taking the belt off Roman this quickly. There will definitely be some sort of outside interference/schmoz - which is more intriguing than the match itself. It should be a pretty good match to close the show.

    Winner: Roman Reigns

Brian Hoops: One of the best jobs WWE has done in recent memory of building intrigue with Gallows & Anderson inserted in the mix. Styles has gotten over and no way should he lose cleanly here. Outside interference from Gallows & Anderson would continue the feud, build more intrigue on Styles relationship with Gallows & Anderson and allow Reigns to keep the title but not beat Styles cleanly.

    Winner: Roman Reigns by dq