Welcome to the Turnbuckle Bandwagon, Monkeys Fighting Robots semi-regular column on sports entertainment and professional wrestling. This weekend we are looking at the next big WWE event, Payback on Sunday, May 1st.
The shows before and after Wrestlemania have a tendency to be a bit less so because they reside in the shadow of the WWE’s biggest show of the year. However, over the past couple of years, Payback has had some solid outings with above average undercard matches to balance out a typically predictable main event. This show has particular promise because a number of NXT talents are making their WWE PPV debut after recently joining the main roster. The WWE is marketing this show as a “new era” since Shane McMahon has been in charge of RAW since after Wrestlemania and The Authority has been absent.
Kalisto vs. Ryback – WWE United States Championship – Pre-show
This match is on the pre-show and again Kalisto is going against “The Big Guy” Ryback. Not sure where the WWE is going with this feud, and it’s not all that interesting, hence why it is on the pre-show.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
Ziggler has been floundering lately, but is still putting on good matches. That may change going up against one of the NXT stars making his PPV debut in Baron Corbin. Corbin had been manhandling most of NXT before making his Wrestlemania debut and winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Corbin is big, strong, and most of all, mean. His matches are like watching a freight train barrel through a woodpile, and working with a seasoned performer like Ziggler should produce a watchable and entertaining match.
Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs The Vaudevillains – #1 Contender Spot for the WWE Tag Team Championship
The Realest Guys In The Room made their main roster debut the night after Mania to a great response and throwing some nice insults at the Dudley Boyz. Simon Gotch and Aiden English would make their debut later in the week on Smackdown. Both teams have face each other multiple times on NXT, but the winner here gets a shot at the current champs, The New Day, who have held the titles since SummerSlam 2015. They work well together and have tons of personality. It may not be a technical masterpiece, but it will be fun to watch.
Charlotte vs. Natalya – WWE Women’s Championship
Another NXT rivalry being carried up to the WWE, Natalya and Charlotte had one of the best wrestling matches in NXT in 2014. Since then, their paths have diverged dramatically. Charlotte would go on to win the NXT Women’s Championship and make her main roster debut last year. Natalya would get injured, and then have to take some time off for family issues, and has recently gotten back into the action in a newly dynamic and rebranded WWE Women’s division. There will also be some old school flavor as Ric Flair will be in his daughter’s corner, and to counter Natalya will have her uncle, the legendary Bret Hart to counter any shenanigans from the Dirtiest Coach in the Game.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
This is a feud that got started because Dean Ambrose showed up with a potted plant and a letter from Shane McMahon stating that the Highlight Reel, Chris Jericho’s in ring talk show had been cancelled. Dean and his houseplant took over and renamed it ‘The Ambrose Asylum’ and it was a smart choice. As mentioned in this column previously, Dean Ambrose is going to be a huge star, the WWE just doesn’t know it yet. Jericho is always a solid performer and fresh off a match with A. J Styles, this is a match that will be athletic, but probably not very fast paced, and enjoyable as Jericho will be playing the villain here.
The Miz vs. Cesaro – WWE Intercontinental Championship
Let’s be real here, The Miz stole the Intercontinental title. He goaded new champ Zack Ryder into a match the night after Wrestlemania, and with some interference from his equally dubious wife Maryse, beat Ryder for the belt. That’s what makes The Miz a vastly underrated character. He cheats, he’s annoying, and it’s made him one of the WWE’s most underrated bad guys. Whatever he is doing, you are supposed to hate him and it works. Cesaro is one of the best athletes in the company right now, back from shoulder surgery with a cool tearaway suit and the #CesaroSection firmly behind him. Watch out for obvious interference from Maryse and more European Uppercuts than you can shake a selfie stick at.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
This match may, and probably will steal the show. Many fans out there consider this particular contest the real main event. Prior to joining WWE, both men have been friends for more than a decade, meeting in 2002. They have performed as a tag team, and most notably against each other in various other promotions, and their work together is nothing short of fantastic. This match has happened in a banquet hall in front of barely 200 people and will now happen at a WWE pay-per-view and a worldwide audience. It should be the first of many match-ups between two talented professional wrestlers.
A. J. Styles vs. Roman Reigns – WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Should A. J. Styles win the WWE Title? Yes. Should he win it at Payback? No. The WWE is still insisting that Roman Reigns is “the guy”, Reigns has even said as much in his boring promos. A. J. is champion material, has been in every promotion he has worked prior to arriving in the WWE, but he just debuted in January. Expect a weird finish here, possibly Styles getting a DQ win, but Roman will walk out with the title.
What do YOU think is going to happen?
Let us know in the comments or talk to me on Twitter @MatPDouglas