By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day Interrupted Randy Orton and Roman Reigns
We haven't had many "anti-Reigns" cities since WrestleMania (not even Chicago rebelled against him at Extreme Rules), so I was surprised they booed Reigns as much as they did. Then again, this is Canada, which is known for being a rowdy crowd at times (in a good way). The back-and-forth between Reigns and Orton was good and it seemed like Reigns was more comfortable on the mic than usual. The New Day's interruption was random, but they were hilarious here. They are so much more at home in this new heel than they ever were as babyfaces and they're finally turning their "cheap" heat into real heat. The announcement of a Handicap match (while not exciting) was a nice hook going into the break.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def Randy Orton and Roman Reigns in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match (Non-title)
What's WWE obsession with putting Orton in Handicap matches against the tag champions? It wouldn't have made any sense for Orton and Reigns to win given the damage it would have done to The New Day, so I was pleasantly surprised to see them lose. It also made sense with the story they were telling with Reigns inadvertently costing Orton the victory and teasing tension between the two, also effectively hyping up their singles match in the main event.
Bray Wyatt Interrupted Ryback
I love a good Canadian crowd, and this audience was electric, but were the "Goldberg" chants really necessary? It's 2015, folks, not 2012. That said, Ryback did an excellent job of acknowledging and subsequently silencing the chants and getting the crowd on his side. It's amazing to see how far he's come on the mic in the last few years and he appears to be genuine with his words. Meanwhile, Wyatt continues to cut the same promos he has for the last feud. I more so blame the material than Wyatt himself; would it kill them to switch it up with Wyatt for once?
Cesaro and Tyson Kidd def. The Ascension
As I've said on a few occasions over the last week, it'd be nice to hear from Cesaro and Kidd about losing the tag titles (and no, Twitter comments don't count), but that's simply wishful thinking. Cesaro and Kidd taking on The Ascension was a refreshing change of pace and they worked a really nice match. The Ascension got in more offense than I expected them to and they had a good outing. Cesaro and Kidd were beloved in Canada and they continue to build steam as a team, likely before they contend for the WWE Tag Team Championship again at Payback.
Dean Ambrose def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins to Join the Fatal 4-Way at WWE Payback (Non-title)
I just absolutely love the chemistry these two have together. Their feud was my favorite of 2014 and although their SmackDown match last week was great, I thought this encounter was even better. The in-ring action was extremely entertaining and the crowd ate up everything they did. I could honestly see this match headlining a pay-per-view for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (one-on-one, that is) down the line, so hopefully they don't do this match too much too soon. Ambrose winning elicited a major reaction and it made for a memorable moment considering he's never beat Rollins before. I love the addition of him into the title match main event and the best part is that they could always save the Triple Threat between the former Shield members for later down the line.
Rusev def. Fandango
It's something small, but the pre-match backstage segment with Rusev, Lana and Fandango added to the match they were about to have. It was a glorified squash, sure, but the subtle tease for a Lana face turn was interesting. We all knew it was only inevitable since it was more a matter of if than it was when, but I still don't agree with it being so soon. I'm hoping it's all a ruse for Rusev to "attack" Lana at Payback only to reveal they're on the same side, but that's a stretch. Rusev will come out of his Payback match a giant loser unless they come up with something clever and creative for the ending.
Stardust def. R-Truth
The match was total throwaway, but my biggest fear is that they're going to have these two feud going forward. Please, please let that not be the case. It would be a complete waste of Stardust, who (I apologize for stating the obvious) needs go to back to being Cody Rhodes. Truth's fear of spiders costing him the win was one of the stupidest things we've seen on this show in some time, and that's saying something. What's worse is that finish actually got by Creative. Unreal.
United States Champion John Cena def. Sami Zayn
Where do I even begin? The Canadian crowd, which has always been anti-Cena, was perfect for the promo Cena was trying to cut about "not giving up." I'm still not looking forward to his upcoming "I Quit" match with Rusev (though I am intrigued), but that was a great promo. Bret Hart coming out to introduce a debuting Zayn in his hometown of Montreal was freaking fantastic. Seriously, how could that have been booked better? And to boot, the match was magnificent! Zayn looked like the ultimate underdog, looked very strong in defeat and Cena showed respect toward him afterward. It was a small teaser of what's to come for these two down the line, but let's hope they follow up on this properly. Did this remind anyone else of Cena's debut against Kurt Angle all those years ago?
Naomi and Tamina Snuka Attacked The Bella Twins
I couldn't even tell you the last time Tamina was on Raw, but it's been long enough. I love her in the role as Naomi's new bodyguard as it will only get the both of them more heat. I know she did the same thing for AJ Lee for several months in 2013-2014, but she worked well in the role and it's far better than having her flounder on her own. Plus, the acknowledgement of the real life family connection between the two was a great touch.
Bad News Barrett and Sheamus def. Neville and Dolph Ziggler
Now that he's King Barrett, can WWE please drop the "Bad News" name have him go back to being Wade? It's the little things that matter most. Anyway, the match was very fun and everyone involved had their talents showcased. Ziggler and Sheamus were able to further their feud while Neville and Barrett got to work with each other a bit more. Barrett needed the win coming off his King of the Ring victory and Neville looked good in defeat, so this was wisely booked.
Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns Ended in a No Contest
You had to know the match wasn't going to last long because it happened so late in the show, which is a shame because they've had some pretty good matches in the past. The interference from The Authority was predictable, but the tension teased between Rollins, Orton, Reigns and Ambrose was the perfect set-up for the Fatal 4-Way. Also, Ambrose being the last man standing established him as a threat to the title, and he was made into a main event star in one night. Amazing!
From Sami Zayn's debut match against John Cena (and more importantly the way it was handled) to Dean Ambrose being added to the Payback main event to the fantastic Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins match, this was an awesome episode all around. Everything else was equally solid and set up the Payback pay-per-view card effectively. The Canadian crowd was red hot all night long and deserves credit for providing an electric environment. I've been more than satisfied with the direction of the product as of late and this show was a treat for fans that gets two thumbs up from me.