After everything that has happened in Baltimore, WWE brought the fun back to a city surely in need of it. The sports entertainment juggernaut hosted its Payback pay-per-view event Sunday there in front of a lively crowd. They had many moments to cheer for with the superstars working hard to put on a solid card of action.
WWE world champion Seth Rollins survived a fatal 4-way for the WWE world championship against challengers Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton. Kane, the onscreen director of operations and J&J Security interfered in the proceedings in the favor of the title holder. There was a Shield reunion when Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns hit their signature triple powerbomb on Orton through a table. This didn’t last long with Reigns and Ambrose going after Rollins. They then turned their attention on each other with the richest prize in WWE on the line. The two came relatively close to securing the gold. There came a point where fans were going for everyone who wasn’t Rollins in the match. Orton hit RKOs on Kane, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury, taking the henchmen out of the equation. Rollins saw an opening and nailed the Pedigree, a Triple H finisher, on Orton to retain.
Without throwing a single dropkick or having a match, Lana has become one of the most popular divas in WWE today. This was evident in the “I Quit” battle between United States champion John Cena and her colleague Rusev. The “Ravishing Russian’s” mere presence elicited loud “We Want Lana” chants. Rusev spent most of the early minutes in firm control of Cena, working on his back with steel steps. The leader of the “CeNation” used the same steps, along with a camera, barricade and a laptop as a weapon. He even sent Rusev through one of the fan retaining walls and electrical equipment, but couldn’t stop his adversary. Cena used the top rope taken apart from the ring to get Rusev to say, “I quit.” A concerned Lana grabbed the microphone and uttered the two words for him. This move adds more fuel to the fire of a likely breakup of Lana and Rusev on WWE TV. Cena remains undefeated in “I Quit” matches.
Bray Wyatt returned to action on PPV against Ryback. Ever since the “New Face of Fear” lost to The Undertaker at WrestleMania, he has been without direction. He has targeted Ryback over the course of the last few weeks. Wyatt pulled out some new moves out of his arsenal including a backsplash from the ring apron to the floor. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how athletic he is, especially for a man his size. The same could be said for the “Big Guy,” who hit a splash from the top rope. I think their match surprised a lot of people with how good it was. The end came when an exposed top turnbuckle and Wyatt’s Sister Abigail finisher took out Ryback. It would be nice if they figured out what direction they want to go with each of these guys.
The New Day and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd have really set the tag division on fire. The two-out-of-three falls stipulation allowed each team to showcase their respective talents. New Day’s Xavier Woods was entertaining at ringside while Big E and Kofi Kingston defended the gold. Natalya tried to keep him at bay. At one fall apiece, the final sequence came when Woods took advantage of a referee distraction. He hit the ring and applied a small package on Cesaro, as the referee thought it was Kingston in the ring. The New Day has mastered tactics that made the Fabulous Freebirds so successful.
Sheamus got the win over a bloody Dolph Ziggler in the opener of the show. Their latest match brought out another level of physicality. Ziggler got the “Celtic Warrior” to finally kiss his arse. After a series of near-falls, Sheamus got the better of his opponent. Although the premise for this feud isn’t the best, the two performers have made the most out of it. The visual of Ziggler in a crimson mask made the finish to this one even more impactful.
The impressive Neville went at it with Bad News Barrett and was victorious via count out. King Barrett then proceeded to beat up the NXT alum. Neville fought back and hit the “Red Arrow” on the sore loser. Expect another chapter in this rivalry. Naomi and Tamina continue their dominance in the diva’s division with a win over Diva’s champion Nikki and her sister Brie Bella.
The pre-show saw R-Truth defeat Cody Rho…I mean Stardust. Macho Mandow and AxelMania teaming together was fun for nostalgic fans, but this didn’t stop the “Mega Powers” 2.0 from falling to the Ascension. The next big event comes 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, May 19 when NXT takes center stage for TakeOver; Unstoppable on the WWE Network. From there, the Elimination Chamber PPVF will also air on the network 8 p.m. Sunday, May 31. The chamber is where a new Intercontinental champion is crowned.