Payback is one week away and still no sign of CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler. John Cena and Ryback are spinning wheels trying to promote a Three Stages of Hell match (which means two more matches between Cena and Ryback that I don’t want to see), and Daniel Bryan has no match despite turning into the greatest wrestler of all time last week.
Meanwhile, the majority of the last two weeks have been devoted to Triple H, who was not allowed to wrestle last week by Vince and Stephanie McMahon, stemming concussion symptoms that he had a couple of weeks earlier. He tried to show he wore the pants in the family (even though he doesn’t wear pants in the ring and his wife wear pants suits) by demanding that he wrestle this week against Curtis Axel. I should also note that right now neither man has a match at Payback, sooooo there’s that.
Triple H and Axel are set to kick off the show, with Curtis sporting new ring gear that is a little more inspired by his dad Mr Perfect. It’s not a singlet, but it’s a nice nod. Axel has been booked horribly since his debut, being made to look like a fool by Hunter and getting his finishers kicked out of by Cena, but he has still looked pretty good in the ring. Triple H starts the match aggressively by beating Axel into the corner, needing the ref to move him away twice before HHH hit a suplex. All of a sudden Vince McMahon’s music hits and Vince strolls down the ramp. He has the bell rung in the middle of the match and has the match ended as a result of a DQ, giving the win to Axel. McMahon then walks back up with a big fat grin while Triple H yells at him from the ring and Heyman and Axel laugh it up. Triple H then uses his power in the company to restart the match and away we go again. This is getting good. Triple H again gets Axel in a chin lock as Vince comes out for a second time. Triple H continues controlling the match as Vince again has the match rewarded to Axel via forfeit. So now Triple H again has the match restarted as a 60 minute iron man match and rings the bell himself. Vince now goes back to the ring, ordering Axel and Heyman to leave, taking the ring bell and the mic with him so Triple H can’t restart the match again. Trips is seething and as far as a non match goes, that was pretty good stuff.
Backstage Triple H is bitching about what just happened to Stephanie, saying that this was crossing the line and he was all embarrassed and whatnot. Stephanie is just trying to stop Trips from hurting him, bringing up how Vince is the grandfather to their kids and how he plays with them in a pool (AWWWWW). Triple H agrees not to hurt him, but tells Steph to go talk to him. This will likely be the story for the entire show.
Kane ringside without Daniel Bryan to take on Dean Ambrose. Kane and Bryan had an argument on Smackdown about Bryan being the weak link and not thinking Kane has his back. Kane meanwhile is tired of his crap and walked out on him. Ambrose came out with the rest of the Shield and stopped at the top of the entrance in the stands, right next to a kid who was screaming with tears while being held up by his mommy. Rollins and Reigns left Ambrose on his own for the match though (which started with no bell), with the two men trading blow early before Kane gained control on a big boot and a back breaker. Kane keeps the momentum with big irish whips in the corner and back breakers, as “Let’s go Ambrose” chants come from the crowd (and a ref brings the bell back). Somehow Dean gained control during the break, tying Kane into the ropes to deliver a running dropkick as Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton watch backstage (THANKS WWE APP!). Ambrose goes to the top rope when Kane grabs his neck, tossing him off the top after Dean initially avoided a choke slam. Kane’s comeback continues with a tilt-a-wirl backbreaker (stealing moves from Del Rio) for a two count. Kane then blocks a sunset flip and tosses Kane into the corners before hitting a sidewalk slam. Kane now goes to the top but Ambrose meets him up there to try a superplex. Kane pushes him down and hits the one handed axe handle. He sets up for a chokeslam when Rollins and Reigns come out to attack Kane, ending the match on a DQ. Bryan and Orton come out to help Kane (good thing they were watching), cleaning house. The Shield retreats as the faces stare at each other like long lost loves.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that Damien Sandow will face Sheamus on the Payback preshow. Big step down for Sheamus right? No way Sandow wins right?
As for tonight’s card, Daniel Bryan will have a match against Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns. YOU get to decide who (THANKS WWE APP!)!
We don’t have to wait long to find out who won the vote as Lawler announces after the following break that 66% of the WWE Universe wanted Seth Rollins. That means that Randy Orton will face Roman Reigns. These six guys have basically been facing each other for months. Backstage Daniel and Randy are still arguing about how Orton RKO’d Bryan because he thought Daniel dropkicked him on purpose (looked like Ambrose just got out of the way), and Kane gets to play the sensible one, trying to stop the fighting. Bryan says Orton has a dumb haircut and stupid tattoos when Vickie Guerrero steps in (remember her?) to announce that Bryan and Orton have match together at Payback against Rollins and Reigns for the Tag Team Championships (so that’s interesting). They continue to argue as they storm off, leaving Kane alone to try figuring out what happened. Guerrero then adds than Kane with have a Unites States title shot against Dean Ambrose, causing the sweating red menace to give Vickie a big gross hug. Lovely.
Back in the ring, the Miz is squaring off against Cody Rhodes. Miz was supposed to be involved in a triple threat match with Fandango for Wade Barrett’s Intercontinental Championship, but apparently Dango suffered a concussion last week, meaning that now Miz will challenge Barrett one-on-one. I hadn’t heard anything about this injury until just now, so I’m curious what the deal is here. Also, what’s up with the head injuries lately? Real ones, fake ones. Do they need to wear helmets in the ring? Miz starts off fast with knee lift and a running clothesline in the corner. Miz then tweaks his knee missing on a double axe handle off the top rope, with Cody taking advantage by working the knee. Miz then spins out of an attempted atomic knee drop to apply the figure four while staring down Barrett, winning the match by submission. Wade heads into the ring to attack Miz when suddenly Paul Heyman takes the stage in order to inform them that Curtis Axel will be replacing Fandango in what will still be a triple threat match. Heyman flaunts Curtis’ wins over Jericho, Cena and Triple H as Axel says that “the perfect ending” to the match will be with him winning the IC belt. So now he’s even talking like his dad. It would be interesting if Axel won the belt that his dad was so famous for, but it would effectively take him out of the main event picture (ironically spending a lot of time on Main Event). Barrett, on the other hand, is overdue to get back into the main event picture. Maybe it would be best for Miz to win this one.
Backstage, Vince McMahon is turning his back to Stephanie, who is trying to tell him how messed up Vince was to embarrass Triple H. Vince turns it into a whole business first thing. Saying you always make the decisions that are best for business. Wait, wouldn’t Triple H in the ring be best for business? While keeping him out of the ring is best for family? I’m confused now. Anyway Vince says it’s best if Stephanie keeps Triple H away from him, and walks off. Very weird.
Chris Jericho to the ring to cut a promo leading into his match against CM Punk. He says that no one takes him to the limit like Punk (including Cena, Austin, Rock and Triple H), and that is because he truly believes he in the best in the world, which is exactly what Jericho thinks of himself. Jericho goes through the similarities between the two of them, saying that Punk will get Jerichos best at Payback because he has to win after losing the first to times. Jericho is just about to wrap it up when DOLPH ZIGGLER SHOWS UP! Ziggy says that talking about the best in the world is a perfect time to make his return. He then cuts a promo about how much better he is than Alberto Del Rio in every way. In the ring, on the mic and so on. Jericho then cuts him off by yelling “BLAH BLAH BLAH” at him, saying that he is looking ahead to Sunday without mentioning Monday (which is what Jericho was doing just now). Chris says Dolph should get rid of his ring rust in a match right now. Instead, Dolph has Big E Langston face him instead. So obviously, Ziggler is being saved for Payback, assuring that he is as healthy as possible for his return. As long as he has a match booked at some point I’m good.
Langston has control of the match early, battering Chris outside the ring as Jericho sells a leg injury. Big E then applies a shoulder lock for some reason, and exits the ring as Jericho dodges him by the ropes. Jericho then hits a dropkick through the ropes to continue the offense on the outside. Langston regains momentum by throwing Jericho into the steel steps. Jericho dodges Langston in the corner, causing Big E’s shoulder to hit the post and get rolled up for a two count. Langston takes control again immediately with a big shoulder. Chris then fights back with some chops and an enziguri that finally takes him down. Langston then catches Jericho on a cross body attempt, hitting repeated back breakers for a two count. Jericho then gets a boot up on Big E running into the corner and hits a cross body splash for two. At this point Ziggler gets on the apron, distracting Jericho long enough to get taken out by Big E. Langston taunts the Big Ending when Del Rio runs out and attacks Dolph. Langston now gets distracted, giving Jericho the opening to hit the Code Breaker and take the match. Alberto runs off and Ziggler officially has opposite momentum status in his favor.
A pretty decent match is followed by a Sin Cara match, which negates the chance to have consecutive good matches, even if it is against Antonio Cesaro. Zeb Colter is ringside for the match, complaining about Sin Cara for being Mexican. We finally get a reason to why Colter has no issue with Cesaro. Cesaro apparently entered the US legally, following all appropriate protocol, while the likes of Sin Cara wears a mask while sneaking into the country so no one can see his face. Okay, point taken. Glad we got that settled. He even states that Antonio is a great wrestler as he controls the middle of the match. Jack Swagger is out with an injury, but Colter says he will not be silenced by Jack not being in the ring. Great, will still get Colter jabber. Out of nowhere Cesaro pulls some luchador moves that I can’t describe and suddenly he has some momentum. Cara then tries a splash off the top rope, but Cesaro catches him and hits a back breaker and follows it up with the Neutralizer. The match ends with Michael Cole not understanding that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. It was about as watchable of a Sin Cara match as you’re going to get as Cesaro was his usual excellent self.
Hey do you like Hardee’s? Vickie and Brad Maddox do! Vickie is pigging out and not letting Maddox eat any, while Vince McMahon comes up from behind her. Guerrero chokes on her burger. Vince reprimands Vickie for licking her fingers (“but it’s so good”) and for having a face-to-face between Cena and Ryback, worrying that they could hurt each other if they “got into it.” Guerrero says she’ll cancel the match (what match?). Vince says the match has been promised so it can’t be cancelled (again, what match and why can’t she cancel it?), saying that if she thought instead of ate she could figure it out. Brad then suggests that the lumberjacks for the Payback match come out to keep them from tearing each other apart and put focus on the Three Stages of Hell match. Vince likes the idea and tells Vickie she should share her burger. Good god was that a chore to watch.
Randy Orton out to the ring for his match against Roman Reigns. Daniel Bryan comes out to be in Randy’s corner while Seth is in Roman’s. Reigns and Orton exchange blows in the corner until Orton hits a standing dropkick and goes into the Garvin stomp and a jumping knee drop. Randy continues the beating outside with a back body drop onto the barrier. More stomping in the ring but Reigns moves away from the jumping knee to turn the tide. Roman methodically lands some punches but falls to a Lou Thesz press and gets 10 punches in the corner from Orton. Randy then gets shoved off the opposite top turnbuckle, sending him to the outside. Roman keeps the momentum back in the ring, holding Orton down with a chin lock, proceeding to drop Randy onto the top rope and hitting him with a jumping forearm for a two count. Orton starts his comeback with a back body drop out of a chin lock, ducking away from Reigns running into the corner and going into his signature movies. Clotheslines, power slam, inverted back breaker, second rope DDT and Orton is ready for the RKO. Rollins runs over to Bryan to take him out however, then running into the ring to take out Orton. Randy hurls Seth over the second rope and tries to hit him with the DDT but Roman pulls him down to the floor. Bryan then runs in the ring and, with Randy’s support, jumps through the ropes into the Shield. Bryan gets the crowd pumped up but the ref ends the match on a no contest. Really? Technically it should have ended after Seth went after Orton in the ring. Anyway a pretty good match ends with a non finish and immediately goes into Bryan versus Rollins.
And I mean immediately. No commercial or anything. They announce the result, Orton and Reigns go outside to their respective corners and the bell rings for Bryan and Rollins. I’m gonna call this the match of the night before it even starts. Rollins starts off beating Bryan into the corner, immediately going into Daniel doing his backflip off the turnbuckle into a clothesline and hitting a hight knee. Bryan then went into a flurry of kicks and elbows. Bryan attempts the mexican surfboard but Seth reaches the rope to avoid it. Bryan responds by drop kicking Rollins out of the ring and hitting a running knee off the apron. The match is all Bryan until Rollins hits a leg sweep putting Daniel into the turnbuckle. Now it’s Rollins attempting a surfboard on Bryan, stands up out of it and locks the move in himself. Bryan then modifies the hold by grabbing Seth’s head and pulling him down into a headlock while maintaining the hold on the legs. That’s ROH Bryan. Back from break, Rollins is in control, taking Bryan own with a jumping forearm. Bryan then fights out of a chin lock, and ducks an enziguri to apply a leg lock that is broken when Seth reaches the ropes. Bryan follows with a pair of running dropkicks in the corner. Bryan then misses a roundhouse kick, this time getting tagged with an enziguri by Rollins. Seth again starts taunting Bryan, delivering the kicks to the mid section. Rollins then goes for a German suplex but Bryan does a back flip and looks like he’s going for a Rough Ryder but Rollins catches him, throwing Daniel into the corner for a two count. Leaning on the ropes, Bryan ducks under Rollins and sends him over the top rope to the outside floor. Bryan went to jump through the ropes by Seth counters with a jumping forearm to send him back. Rollins goes to the top rope but Bryan moves under it, rollins Seth over and tagging him with a roundhouse kick for a two count. Bryan, now with a bloody mouth, goes to the top rope but Rollins knocks him down. Seth looks to be attempting a suplerplex but Bryan slides under him and goes for a super side suplex, but Rollins rolls onto Bryan to give Daniel the brunt of the fall. Fantastic match. With both men in opposite corners, Reigns jumps on the apron toward Bryan but Orton sneaks up behind him and takes his legs out from under him (what a supportive partner). Bryan then dodges a diving Rollins in the corner and applies a small package to win the match. Outstanding stuff. The crowd is going nuts as Rollins tries to attack Bryan from behind. Daniel hits a roundhouse kick however, leading Seth directly into an RKO from Orton. So the Shield loses clean as Bryan and Orton are on the same page. The Shield is definitely winning this Sunday and Orton will probably be facing Bryan at the next PPV.
Once again the match of the night is followed up with a fantastic segment, as we find out who Kaitlyn’s secret admirer is! Is the sarcasm laid on thick enough? Well if you follow him on twitter then you won’t be surprised to find out that it’s Big E Langston. He comes out dressed up with flowers for Kaitlyn, who seems totally creeped out. Langston grabs the mic, sounding completely out of character to say that while people only think he likes beating people up, he cares about her. Kaitlyn is still apprehensive as Big E tells Kaitlyn that she is it for him and grabs her. Kaitlyn starts to get into it when he dips her like he was gonna plant a big ol’ kiss, but instead Langston drops her like a bad habit (there goes that face turn). Out comes AJ to talk about how she punked her so Kaitlyn would feel abandoned like AJ felt went Kaitlyn abandoned her. Need further explanation? Good, because AJ was happy to talk about how men have been hurting and using her for the last year while her “best friend” was busy chasing the Divas title, so now she’s hurting her back. Kaitlyn calls AJ crazy, but AJ says that she is smart. AJ says Kaitlyn can beat her in the ring, but AJ can beat her in her mind. She essentially calls her lonely pathetic trash and makes her cry, saying the only think Kaitlyn has is her title, and AJ is going to take it from her on Sunday. AJ tells Kaitlyn she’s going to go back to the trailer park she came from and use her man arms (yeah, she said that) to eat her emotions like a useless cow, and the cow comment sets Kaitlyn off, as she slaps AJ they roll on the floor for a bit before AJ escapes the ring and blows a kiss at the emotionally distraught Divas champ. Say what you want about the angle and how cheesy it was, but AJ was really good during that segment. She took a dead segment and got the crowd into it. She did it without an ass grab black window.
Back to wrestling as Damien Sandow takes on R-Truth. Truth starts off by dancing and Sandow counters by attacking Truth and chucking him out of the ring. Sandow runs Truth into the apron and covers his face with it to continue his assault. Damien hits the elbow of disdain for two but Truth comes back with a spinning kick and reverse suplex for two of his own. Looks like Sandow has a new finisher, as he uses the Silencer (a modified Rock Bottom) to win the match. Sheamus comes out to spoil the celebration and cut a promo about how he’s going to kick off Payback by kicking off his head. Classic brute.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon is sending different people to find Triple H and Vince, telling them to meet Steph in her office and that it is urgent. This is the old sitcom plan of having two friends that are in a fight go to a location expecting to see one person (or have the other friend apologize) but instead are put into a room with each other to face their differences. So they start to argue when Stephanie yells at both of them, saying she is tired of it all and orders them to work it out. Basically she is the alpha dog in this scenario. Vince starts telling Triple H that regardless of how good Axel definitely is that he is bigger than that or any other match. He says Triple H is a legend and has accomplished everything in the ring, but Vince wants him to be more than that. He wants Triple H to be the man that can make the right decision every time, making decisions that are bigger than a match with Curtis Axel. Triple H says he understands why he did what he did (good, because I still don’t), and to show that he’s the bigger man, Vince agrees to grant him a match next week against Axel. Triple H then declines, saying that he doesn’t need it. So now Vince is saying he’d like to see that match but Trips keeps refusing. It’s like a Bugs and Daffy routine (it’s RABBIT SEASON!). So now they are arguing about that when Stephanie comes back in to have them hug it out. They refuse to hug each other (Vince says he won’t hug another man) so Steph has Vince hug her, making Triple H annoyed because he’s not good enough to be hugged (now it’s a Kane/Bryan routine). The whole thing ends with an awkward group hug and I have no idea what’s going on. Is there a match next week or not?
Time for John Cena and Ryback to talk to each other while a bunch of wrestlers watch from outside the ring. Ryback has incorporated the ambulance as a full part of the entrance, bursting out of the back with his music playing and all that. Ryback gets to the middle of the ramps when he decides to back up and talk from the stage instead. Cena says he wants Ryback to face him in the ring. Cena then takes the opportunity to explain what a lumberjack match is. Cena starts to talk about how Ryback can definitely hurt people, but he doesn’t deserve to be WWE Champion. Then Ryback is all, “I do deserve to be WWE Champion.” He says he should have been the champ three times over (true), getting robbed by the Shield repeatedly. Cena mentions that he gave Ryback his title shot at Hell in a Cell, which Ryback says is when the problem started. He says he got too good too fast and started taking Cena’s fans, so Cena went into damage control by leaving him to get beaten around by the Shield. Cena gets pissed about Ryback making excuses and that nobody wins the belt needing a guardian angel watching out for him. He just yells everything he says. It must suck being a lumberjack right now. They are just standing around during all this. Ryback counters by saying that he is going to win by winning the lumberjack match, then putting him through a table and putting him in an ambulance (technically if he wins the first two falls he wouldn’t have to put him in an ambulance). Cena does what he and all faces tend to do, and tries to fight now instead of at the scheduled time. The lumberjacks do their job and keep Cena from getting to Ryback. Ryback then runs into the ring and immediately exits as Cena lowers the rope on him. The face lumberjacks then throw Ryback back into the ring (proving once again than heels are better at following rules) and the show ends with the lumberjacks trying to separate the two main eventers.
The crowd just wasn’t that into it and it’s hard to blame them. It sounds like this match is going to be 40 minutes long. I can’t take it. Maybe during the lumberjack match, Cena can throw Ryback through a table into an ambulance and pin him to win all three matches at once. I’ll watch because of Punk and Ziggler coming back (they better anyway). I just wish so much attention wasn’t given to Cena, Ryback and the saga of Triple H really needing to retire for the good of everyone.