Wednesday, 20 May 2015

TV Review: WWE Payback

It's time to step into WWE territory once again as we take a look at their latest pay-per-view offering, Payback, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.

The show began with singles action as Sheamus went up against Dolph Ziggler.

Sadly I can't make any Father Ted references this time around due to the lack of stipulations, but as far as opening matches go this was pretty good. I really enjoyed the opening sequences where Ziggler used his hit and run tactics to take the upper hand until Sheamus caught his superkick attempt and delivered a plain old elbow to the knee to stop his progress.

The back and forth exchanges between these two were just as good as they were a few weeks ago, and as the big Irishman took controlled and unloaded with the heavy artillery Ziggler played his part perfectly as he became the plucky underdog that wouldn't say die.

This was never more evident than towards the end when Ziggler broke out of Sheamus' clutches with a big headbutt that busted him open followed by a superkick. Sadly for Mr. Ziggles he couldn't get the pin, and a few seconds later it was all over when Sheamus took him down with a brogue kick for the winning pin.

The first title match of the evening saw Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, accompanied by the lovely Natalya, challenging the New Day's Big E and Kofi Kingston, with Xavier Woods in their corner, for the Tag Team titles in a best of three falls match.

These guys well and truly stole the show at Extreme Rules, which meant that they had a lot to live up to with this re-match. They just about managed it, showing once again that tag team wrestling, if it's done right, can be just as entertaining as any singles match. As for the falls.....

The first fall went to the challengers. After Cesaro began to take Kingston around with the big swing Kidd connected with the dropkick, taking the pin for his team.

The second fall went to the champions. Biggie and Kingston used Kidd as their personal punching bag throughout, and when Biggie took Cesaro off the ring apron with a spear through the ropes it left Kidd alone, and even though he managed to fight his way back at one point the odds were just too much when the champions took him down with a double-team big ending to get the equalising pin.

The third fall was the best of the lot as both teams kicked it into overdrive and Kidd and Cesaro pulled off some great moves together. They came close to getting the winning pin on numerous occasions, but during the final all hell breaking loose segment Woods sneaked into the ring while the referee was otherwise distracted and took Cesaro down with a small package. The referee was none the wiser as he made the count, giving the New Day boys the title-retaining pin.

Then it was back to singles action as Bray Wyatt faced Ryback.

I have to admit that I didn't think this one would be up to much, but after seeing the effort these guys put in I was pleasantly surprised, because in the end this was a pretty good match.

It began with Ryback using his tremendous power to take control, but when the tide turned and the action spilled out to ringside Wyatt came back with the first holy you know what moment of the night when he rang along the ring apron and came down on Ryback on the floor with a senton.

It looked as if Wyatt was going to get the count out win there and then with Ryback lying on the floor gasping for air. The big man only just managed to make it back into the ring in time, and from there these two proceeded to beat the hell out of each other a little more in what was turning into a very interesting and unique back and forth encounter.

The second holy you know what moment came a short time later as Ryback showed that he's capable of getting in a few air miles when he launched himself off the top rope with a big splash. Okay, it wasn't quite in the same class as Jimmy Snuka, but it was still quite a spectacle.

Sadly for the big man it didn't lead to the win, and a few moments later a struggle in the corner saw one of the turnbuckle pads ripped away as Ryback tried to go for his shell-shocked finisher. Wyatt managed to avoid that particular move, and after he barged the big man into the exposed metal Wyatt connected with sister Abigail to take the winning pin.

It was back to title action for the next match as the lovely Lana accompanied Rusev as he challenged John Cena for the United States title in an I Quit match.

This was the forth time round for these two boys on pay-per-view, and this may have been the best match in their series. It was a brutal, balls to the wall affair as they beat the proverbial out of each other, but if Rusev had had his way this match would never have happened. Before the match began Rusev gave Cena the chance to say the magic words to save himself a beating. Cena was having none of it though, and responded by clobbering the big Bulgarian.

The challenger then found himself distracted by the attention his lovely lady was getting, and after delivering a few choice blows to Cena he made sure Lana was out of harm's way by making her sit near the commentator's table.

From there these two beat the hell out of each other with whatever came to hand and in some rather unique ways. Their brawling soon took them out of the ring, and after Cena barged Rusev through a barricade they began fighting through the crowd, hitting each other with all manner of different things. But despite all of this neither man could make the other utter those magic words.

Eventually they made it to the entrance set for some explosive action, literally. After Cena ducked Rusev's superkick attempt he took him down with an attitude adjuster onto a pyrotechnics platform. The sparks certainly flew there, but it still wasn't enough to put the Bulgarian away.

More big bumps followed. Rusev suplexed the champion through an "old school" barricade, and back in the ring he locked in the accolade. Cena managed to get to his feet, but his attempts to get the big man off his back came to nothing, and as his energy began to fade it wasn't long before he passed out.

Rusev began to celebrate, thinking he'd won, until the referee reminded him that Cena had to say the magic words, which he couldn't do because he was unconscious. Rusev then went to revive the champion by throwing water onto him before he went over to the corner and removed one of the turnbuckles.

But when he went to use it as a weapon Cena countered and used the now-loose top rope for some assistance as he locked in the STF. Rusev cried out in pain, but nobody could understand him. It was then that Lana got in the ring and revealed that her man had said the magic words in Russian. Upon hearing this the referee immediately called for the bell, giving Cena the title-retaining win.

It was back to tag team action for the next match as Divas Champion Nikki Bella teamed with sister Brie to take on Naomi and Tamina Snuka.

Let's be totally honest here. Action-wise this didn't exactly set my pulse racing. Most of it was okay I suppose, but there were a few dodgy moments, and overall it just didn't seem that exciting. In essence, the Divas were back to being filler material.

Brie took the brunt of the punishment from her foes, and Nikki managed to take it to both girls after getting the hot tag, but a momentary distraction brought on by a ringside brawl gave Naomi the chance to slam Nikki from the top rope for the winning pin.

The penultimate match was the battle of the Brits as the newly-crowned King Barrett took on Adrian Neville.

It's a shame that these two weren't given a little more time, because given the talent that my fellow countrymen possess I would have loved to see them go at it for another five or ten minutes. But despite the lack of seconds this turned out to be a keenly-contested contest, and although Neville had one slightly iffy moment overall it wasn't that bad.

Neville got in a few fast-paced moves early on before Barrett took control, and as always HRH looked in pretty good nick, even though he had trouble putting the upstart away. But when the high-flyer came back into the match Barrett was in some trouble, although he did manage to roll out of the way when Neville climbed to the top rope in preparation for his red arrow finisher.

It didn't save the King for long though when Neville took to the air and connected with a dive over the ropes. Both men looked in a little trouble as the referee began his count, and while Neville managed to make it back into the ring Barrett chose not to at the last second, giving Neville the count out win in order to avoid further punishment.

But even though Barrett was reluctant to engage during the match he wasn't reluctant to attack Neville from behind after the match, ramming him into the ring steps before throwing him into the barricade before collecting his royal regalia. Barrett's celebrations were a little premature though. Neville got back into the ring, and after avoiding Barrett's sceptre attack a back suplex took him down and a red arrow finally finished him off.

The main event saw Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns challenging Seth Rollins for the WWE World title in a fatal four way match, with Kane's job as Director of Operations on the line if Rollins lost.

I've heard this described as a potential match of the year candidate, and I can see why. From start to finish it was a match jam-packed with drama and great performances from the main players and the supporting cast.

There was so much action in this one it would probably take me an age to list all of the great moments. As expected the new stooges Noble and Mercury involved themselves whenever they could, as did Kane, who made it clear that he was siding with Rollins so he could keep his job.

The exchanges between all of the combatants were all but faultless. Rollins played the part of the somewhat-cowardly heel champion perfectly. He was a man who was willing to do everything he could so he could retain his title, even if that meant momentarily teaming with the two men he'd stabbed in the back when he joined the Authority.

Yep, for one night only the Shield reunited with a trademark moment when they powerbombed Orton through the announcer's table. For a brief moment it looked like Reigns and Ambrose were going to help the champion. It wasn't long though before he found out that the reunion was only going to last a few seconds, and although Kane stopped Ambrose and Reigns from powerbombing him through the Spanish table the corporate one soon found himself on the receiving end of a Shield powerbomb onto Rollins and through the wood.

This led to the best sequences of the match as old buddies Reigns and Ambrose went at it in the ring. The way they countered each other's best moves was brilliant, and if I could see these two in action against each other in a singles match then I'd be a happy man.

Sadly their former partner had to interfere, which set things up perfectly for the finish. With Kane taking Ambrose and Reigns out of the equation again Orton took Rollins down with the hangman's DDT to set him up for the RKO. The champion managed to dodge the bullet though, and after Kane took the move for his team Rollins came back and took his final challenger down with a pedigree for the title-winning pin.

In conclusion - this time around I decided against reading any extensive online reviews, because more often than not I find myself disagreeing with most of what I read. So, unhampered by the views of others I watched Payback with a great deal of expectation, expectations which were definitely met.

Apart from the somewhat lacklustre Divas tag match every match shown here delivered. There were some pretty good performances throughout this show, as exemplified by those in the main event, where even the supporting staff played their parts extremely well.

As for my match of the night no-prize there were a few candidates here, and while it was tempting to go for Ryback/Wyatt I'm going for the WWE World title match, especially as it had a brief Shield reunion.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give this thing the thumbs up.