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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: WWE Payback 2023

We begin our big double PPV weekend with WWE Payback. John Cena recently made his return and he will be hosting the event, it has also been reported we can expect to see Cena on TV for a good few months which is very exciting. This could he his finally proper run with the company. With the tragic news of Bray Wyatt's passing still in our hearts, and the shocking news of CM Punk's firing still in our minds. Let's put that aside to watch some good wrestling. Let's Review.


2nd September 2023- WWE Payback


-Our commentary team is Michael Cole & Corey Graves


Becky Lynch vs Trish Stratus, Steel Cage

A well built feud that's been burning since Wrestlemania. Trish & Becky were allies against Damage CTRL, but Trish turned heel on Becky refusing to be a sidekick and demanding her flowers for her contributions to women's wrestling. Stratus won their match at Night of Champions thanks to the help of Zoey Starks, making her debut on the main roster and aligning with Trish. After weeks of duelling promos and attacks, a Steel Cage match was originally set up for Summerslam but it was pushed back until tonight.


Trish tried to escape early but Becky prevents it and begins to work her with strikes and exploder suplexes. Trish fights out of a Manhandle slam and tries to escape again. She gains control and starts throwing and pushing Becky into the cage wall. Stratus continues to punish Becky and taunting the crowd, a lot of rope choking. Becky turns the tide and launches Trish into the steel a few times. Trish avoids the disarmer and sends her into the cage again. She bridges under a clothesline and Becky leg drops her in a fun spot. They take turns slamming heads into the cage wall until Becky takes control. Rope hung leg drop gets Becky a nearfall. A nice counter to a counter by Trish who nearly escapes, but gets powerbombed by Becky. Trish reverses a Manhandle slam & a disarmer and hits Becky with a Widows Peak, a lovely nod to Victoria. Twist of fate by Becky, a lovely nod to Lita, both a reference to the first women's Steel cage match featuring those two. Stratusfaction gets a nearfall. Trish tries to escape, Becky stops it but eats a top rope bulldog for a nearfall. They're both on the top of the cage duelling blows, Trish ends up hanging by her legs from the top which looked cool. Becky brings her back inside with a HUGE superplex. Trish just manages to get a shoulder up. Becky tries to escape by climbing but Trish tries the door. Becky drops to stop, Zoey Starks comes out to try help Trish. Becky manages to get a Mandhandle slam but Starks breaks the pin. Manhandle slam to Starks, top rope Manhandle slam to Trish finally gets the win.


It was a slow start but once it got going, it GOT GOING. An awesome battle by both women which had everything you want from a cage match. I like how Trish continued to try escape throughout, often in these matches people forget to try to win. Lynch was of course going over but the predictability didn't hurt the match at all. A great match.


Becky Lynch wins via pinfall (20:02)

4/5


-Post match, Trish is disappointed and Starks tried to console her. Trish slaps her and demands she leaves, Zoey closes the door and hits the C360. Well that alliance is over. I hope this isn't a face turn for Zoey already, I think she has legs as a heel and I don't think she's ready for a face run just yet.


-An awesome promo by Shinsuke Nakamura about what he's going to do to Rollins. THIS is what WWE should have been doing with Nakamura. Not all of that cock punching stuff.


-John Cena comes out to a huge pop. He says he's done it all but he hasn't been a host, he wants to make tonight special. Cena wants to be then special referee for LA Knight vs The Miz. The Miz comes out and says Cena sucks as a host. Cena asks for advice, Miz says don't insert yourself as a referee and also don't appear as a Merman in Barbie. Cena doesn't like him but respects him, asks again for advice. Be tells him to be more involved and dress better. "You're nearly 50 and dressing like a teletubby" hilarious line. Cena gets a referee shirt and out comes LA Knight. This was a fun segment.


LA Knight vs The Miz

This feud stems from Knight eliminating The Miz from the Slim Jim Battle Royal at Summerslam. A few weeks of promos targeting each other, including the Miz cosplaying as LA Knight, led to this match. The Miz loves dressing up as his rivals doesn't he?


The fans chant tiny balls as The Miz is hesitant to enter the ring. The Miz tries to walk away and sucker Knight in but Knight takes him out and back to the ring. Duelling strikes but Knight takes control with suplexes. The Miz reverses a superplex, hits a diving axe handle. He works Knight but eats a powerslam. Knight reverses a skull crushing finale, The Miz rolls out and they fight on the outside. Knight hits a cool diving clothesline from the barricade. The Miz works Knight in the corner past the 5 count so Cena drags him away, he has to do the same to LA Knight twice and they have a face to face. The Miz takes advantage, hits a rope assisted codebreaker for a nearfall. Miz starts hitting the It kicks he stole from "somebody", Knight powers back with a suplex. A nice neckbreaker then a Bulldog and a running boot. Miz takes control with 2 consecutive DDTs. Knight reverses a SCF again, Knight hits a cool looking rope assisted DDT. Miz tries to cheat leading to a face to face with Cena, Knight almost clotheslines Cena for another staredown

The distraction leads to a SCF for a nearfall. Miz mocks Cena going for the 5 Knuckle Shuffle. Powerslam, elbow drop, Blunt Forced Trauma for the LA Knight win.


A good match, it got a little dull at moments but Knight's overness helped as well as Cena's involvement. The Miz is such a great heel and working the crowd. Another correct result. The interactions between Cena & Knight are interesting and we'll see how this can play out down the line.


LA Knight wins via pinfall (15:46)

3.25/5


-post-match, Knight & Cena face off on the stage and talk about meeting on Smackdown. They shake hands and Cena raises his arm. A good endorsement for Knight.


Rey Mysterio (c) vs Austin Theory for the US Championship

Santos Escobar was challenging for the title a few weeks back but Theory kept attacking him. After being too injured to compete, Rey Mysterio took his place and won the match, claiming the US title for a second/third time. This is the rematch.


Theory attacks Rey quickly to start. Rey uses his quickness to duck and dive moves but he eats a stiff clothesline. Theory hits a footstomp into a suplex for a 2. Rey reverses a suplex into a small package. Choke holds by Theory, who continues to heel it up to the crowd. This is kinda boring so far. Too much time trash talking and taunting and not enough wrestling. He tries to take off Rey's mask but Rey fights back, hitting a moonsault. Rey comes back with a rana, sliding to the outside into a tornado DDT. A senton for a nearfall. Springboard rana, 619 attempt is dodged. Theory catches him into a spinning sitout powerbomb for a nearfall. A-Town reversed, roll through dropkick by Theory answered with a dropkick by Rey. Rey hits the 619, Theory lifts the knees for a splash and goes for the A-Town but Rey reverses into a pin to win.


The action was solid but this lacked heat and crowd investment. I think Theory needs some serious character development, he's young and talented but there's nothing about him that makes me want to see him, I actually don't want to see him. I think we're building to an eventual heel turn for Santos Escobar on Rey Mysterio which will be exciting. Yeah, this was fine but it wasn't very captivating.


Rey Mysterio retains via pinfall (9:49)

2.5/5


-Becky Lynch is about to be interviewed when NXT women's Tiffany Stratton comes in. She apologises for falsely claiming Becky was ever an NXT champion. Becky says she might see her soon. I am 100% down for a Lynch vs Stratton feud, what a way to elevate a future star.


Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Judgment Day (Finn Balor & Damien Priest, Steel City Street Fight for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships

Kevin Owens was sidelined with an injury for a while, so the Judgment Day targeted Sami Zayn who looked for other allies to help like Riddle & Alpha Academy. Owen eventually made his return on Raw in Canada and help Zayn fight off the Judgment Day, who look to use this opportunity to prove they're unity and maybe fix these bubbling issues between Balor & Priest. They need to get on the same page or Rhea Ripley promises changes in the faction.


A brawl to start, Zayn fights Balor & Owens fights Priest. It's been literally 30 seconds and we're already hearing we want tables chants. Kendo stick to Zayns head by Balor. Balor stamps on a Pittsburgh steeler towel for huge boos, even making usually heel commentator Graves cheer for KO & Sami. A big tope by Sami onto both Balor & Priest. Trash cans used by the champs. KO reveals a Terry Funk shirt, nice. Balor is put in a Trash can and the champs hit him with Kendo. A table is set up. Priest fights back with strikes and the Trash can. Balor uses a chair. They both dissect Owens with the chair. Zayn tries to save but they double team him. As Balor takes out Zayn, Owens manages to fight back but he's taken out by a chair. Zayn is back with a chair to Balor. Judgment Day retreat into the crowd so KO & Sami follow and they brawl in the crowd. Dominik Mysterio is out to help Judgment Day retake control. Owens & Zayn reappear wearing hockey jerseys and holding hockey sticks Owens is busted open. They wipe out Balor & Priest before targeting Dirty Dom. Blue thunder bomb on a pile of chairs. Owens' face looks completely clean as if he was never bleeding in the first place. Falcon arrow to Zayn on 4 set up chairs looked painful. Owens is double teamed through the crowd. Owens keeps fighting back as Zayn finally returns to the fight too. They're by the pre-show area. A big dive off the desk by Sami. Dom is back to help his boys but gets assaulted by Owens. Dom is on a table, Owens goes to the balcony for a HUGE Swanton bomb. Holy shit indeed Pittsburgh. That looked like a rough landing. Zayn and Balor in the ring. Zayn looks for the helluva kick but Priest throws a bin at his head. Zayn fights off the 2-on-1, he punches Balor threw a table. KO is back with a stunner for Priest, helluva kick for Balor 1-2-NO! JD McDonagh pulls Zayn out the ring! Owens hits a brutal pop-up Powerbomb to JD on the table. Ripley spears Owens through the barricade! This is nuts!! Balor & Zayn in the ring again. Slingblade, dropkick, coup de grace is dodged! Helluva kick 1-2-NO! Dom is in with the briefcase. Balor rolls on the pin for the 1-2-3!


This match was absolutely incredible. These four went to absolute war with each other. That Swanton spot was especially awesome. There was A LOT of outside interference by the other members of the Judgment Day, including JD McDonagh who I imagine will be added to the ranks soon after this. I don't think the interference was excessive though, it fit Judgment Day's character to band together and win at any costs when it matters the most. Great job to all involved in this one. This was off the chain.


Judgment Day win the championships via pinfall (20:44)

4.5/5


-segment for Connor's cure. They do some great work. If you want to watch an inspiring, tear jerking story search up the story of Connor the Crusher.


-hype package for Cody Rhodes' 2023 so far.


-Grayson Waller Effect segment. Waller insults Pittsburgh before introducing Cody Rhodes. Cody is over as rover, as expected. Waller interrupts him and is a general jackass to him. Rhodes talks about what could go down if it continues this way. "I don't wanna fight in front of these beautiful trees" Grayson is funny. Rhodes asked for the time and in return wants to offer a scoop. Rhodes announces that Main Event Jey Uso has moved over to Raw! Jey Uso has returned! "You've been gone like 2 weeks lad" I love Grayson. Chants of Ucey fill the arena. Waller rips on Jey as accomplishing nothing as a singles star, Jey hits him with the superkick. It's great to see Jey back. I think him being away from the Bloodline story is good for him, there's plenty of time to have the brother vs brother match (it'll probably happen at Wrestlemania).


Rhea Ripley (c) vs Raquel Gonzalez for the Women's World Championship

Rhea has been unstoppable since Wrestlemania, she recently targeted and injured Raquel's friend Liv Morgan so Raquel has been gunning for revenge. Its nice to see a bit of personality from Raquel recently, other than just being the girl with the nice back. I read somewhere that Rhea is looking more and more like an anime villain and I really see it. She's awesome.


They lock up in an even test of strength to start. The continue to grapple and wrestle for control, but both women seem to be equally strong. Raquel hits a shoulder tackle and Rhea takes a breather. Rhea uses cheap tactics to take advantage but Raquel is still too strong currently and just eats her strikes. Back and forth reversals but Rhea takes advantage with a dropkick. Rhea chokes her against the ropes. Rhea works her back and continues to taunt her. She keeps Raquel on the ground and grinds her down. Rachel manages to throw Rhea away to gain a breather but Rhea trips her into the ropes. Stomps by Rhea and a dropkick. Raquel rallies back with some clotheslines and a big fallaway slam. Rhea trips her off the top rope and ties her in the corner, unloading with stomps. Rope assisted suplex by Gonzalez. Spinning corkscrew elbow for a nearfall. Rhea with a huge running knee and a cocky pin for a 2 count. Riptide reversed, not sure what she went for in the Powerbomb position but it didn't look awful. Rhea reverses a superplex and targets Raquels knee. Prism lock by Rhea which looks impressive, reversed into a pin for a 2. Powerslam for a double down. They exchange blows, Raquel boots her out of the ring. Powerbomb into the post and thrown into the barricade. Snake eyes into the post. Dirty Dom has returned and is dragged in to the ring. Raquel steps to him and eats a powerslam. The distraction is enough for Rhea to hit Riptide for the win.


The match was really good. I think it suffered from the crowd reactions. Rhea is the heel but she's super over so they weren't going to cheer for Raquel over her. It was a competitive back and forth match and it was all good stuff. There was that weird Powerbomb botch, but it was barely noticeable and they saved the spot well.


Rhea Ripley retains via pinfall (17:22)

3.5/5


-John Cena puts a suit jacket & bowtie on to be a correspondent and interviews Finn Balor & Damien Priest. Cena does a hilariously accurate job as an interviewer. If you look, you can even see he crouches down whilst interviewing, something that WWE are rumoured to have told their interviewers to do in the past. The Judgment Day say brothers fight but now they'll celebrate with all the gold.


Seth Rollins (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Rollins has been the GOAT of Raw recently as the Heavyweight Champion. Nakamura had allied himself briefly with Rollins & Zayn before turning heel on Rollins. He whispered to him during his celebration "I know about your back" a reference Rollins' real life difficulties with back injuries for the past few years. Seth Rollins has been a victim of sneak attacks by Nakamura who threatens to take everything away from him. This is the most intense we've seen Nakamura since he was a New Japan star.


Seth Rollins stands like a drip drip god and is sheered with his woah chant for over a minute. We get an AWESOME anime style video package introducing Nakamura who will put Rollins out of his misery. Nakamura comes dressed in a Ronin Samurai robe. Some more references to Bray Wyatt by Seth Rollins.


Nakamura plays it cool and cocky as they battle for control early. Chain wrestling to start, the fans chanting for both men. Nakamura teases the back before his signature "COME OOOON". A big kick to the back by Shinsuke but Rollins quickly takes back control. Rollins knocks Nakamura outside and hits a suicide dive. Back inside, Nakamura reverses a pedigree and fires off stiff kicks and strikes to the back. Nakamura stomps him in the corner and does his good vibrations. Rollins reverses a knee, hits a springboard Swanton and another suicide dive. Rollins wears down Nakamura on the outside, slamming him into the steps and the table. Nakamura throws him onto the announce table and it didn't break. Knee strikes in the corner by Shinsuke. Big strikes and a camel clutch. Rollins fights back with his own strikes, but Nakamura regains control. Knee to the facs and the back of an apron hung Rollins. Nakamura continues to wear him down. Rollins turns things around with a top rope rana. Frog splash for a nearfall. Ripcord clothesline by Rollins. Rollins is fired up, Nakamura dodges the stomp with a sleeper but Rollins fights out. Big flying knee for a nearfall for Nakamura. Plenty suplexes by Nakamura, including the rope hung snap German. Inverted exploder setting up a Kinshasa. Rollins reverses with a superkick. Big strikes by Rollins who keeps wrist control, Nakamura reverses a rolling elbow into an armbar, transitioned into a triangle choke. Rollins manages to power out with the Powerbomb. They exchange strikes, both men are worn down. Strikes and reversals by both men. Nakamura hits a great landslide from the top. Kinshasa teased but Rollins can't get up. Rollins tries to fight back but Nakamura leathers him. Reversals after reversals into a pedigree. The stomp is reversed, a pin is reversed and a stomp gets Rollins a 1-2-3.


This was an awesome fight between two evenly matched wrestlers. This is the best Nakamura has been portrayed in about 5 years, he looked great. I think a lot of us wanted a Nakamura win purely because he deserves a world title run in WWE, but I'm not mad at a Rollins retention. It was slow at times but it sold the beating both men were giving each other. The match was great, the storytelling was great and the crowd were hot for both men.


Seth Rollins retains via pinfall (25:57)

3.75/5


-Apparently Nakamura did attack Rollins post match but it wasn't aired. I imagine this feud is far from over. Maybe we might get our Nakamura title reign after all?


Overall- 71.7%

Less is more sometimes and that proved to be the case. Only a 6 match card with two marquee promo segments. The only low for the show was the heatless US title match, but with a cracking Steel Cage opener, a banger of a Street Fight and a highly competitive main event. This was a very enjoyable show.


Thanks for reading, what did ya'll think? Let me know your thoughts and feelings, follow my socials, all that good stuff. My review of AEW All Out will probably drop late next week due to some work commitments I have. I should also have a new season of Ranking & Reviewing ready to release by the end of the month.


ALSO I'd like to announce that my first season for a new podcast should be beginning production soon. It'll be recorded in a season format with a set overarching topic, the first season will be a round Robin tournament to determine the very best WWE PPV of all time. Me and some friends will be discussing & debating our way through that. Alongside that we should hopefully have a few guests from the local indie scene to talk any and all things wrestling with too. Exciting stuff. Until next time, see ya!

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