By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus
Ambrose and Sheamus have had very few matches together in the last year or so, so it felt fresh and I'd like to see more matches between the two down the line. Both guys are so over in their respective roles that the crowd was invested in everything they did while they worked a very well wrestled match. Neither guy should have lost here, but having Sheamus get pinned with a roll-up was wise since Ambrose will be in the main event of Payback for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Meanwhile, I was surprised to not see Sheamus' Payback opponent Dolph Ziggler show up.
Rusev Addressed His "I Quit" Match with United States Champion John Cena at WWE Payback
It feels like we've heard the same promos from Rusev and Cena in recent weeks while promoting the "I Quit" match, and there isn't much else they can say. That said, with the material they're being given to work with, they've made the most of it and Rusev's promo here was decent. They continued to heavily tease tension between Rusev and Lana, so it's possible we see them finally split as soon as Sunday.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins def. Ryback (Non-title)
The way this match was booked was probably better than if they worked a standard singles match. Ryback was protected via the Bray Wyatt attack (which I liked because it was something different for this feud) and Rollins came off like the slimy heel champion he is by taking advantage of the injured Ryback and the interference from J&J Security. Furthermore, I enjoyed the story they told with Ryback getting in some hope spots here and there but ultimately falling to Rollins. It was a nice win for Rollins going into his upcoming title defense that was equally effective in furthering the feud between Ryback and Wyatt.
Tyson Kidd def. WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston
These two are obviously capable of putting on a much better match, but this wasn't intended to be much more than a momentum booster than for one half of the challengers going into the WWE Tag Team Championship match. It was fun for what it was, but not nearly as special as it could have been if given more time. Of course, Cesaro and Kidd both of their singles matches this week is a major indicator that The New Day will ultimately retain at Payback.
Neville def. Bo Dallas
Remember when these two headlined the first NXT live special in a Ladder match for the NXT Championship? This was a nothing match merely designed to showcase the skills of Neville before he does battle with King Barrett in three days, but there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, was their history even mentioned? I didn't catch it on commentary, but I could be wrong. Dallas can be a quirky heel if he didn't lose so often and if was actually given some direction. As for Barrett, he did well on commentary and the rubber match at Payback should be as good as their first two encounters.
Roman Reigns def. Kane in a No Disqualification Match
I appreciated not getting this match on Raw this week, but we ended up getting it on SmackDown anyway. Why not just bill this as a "No Disqualification" or a "No Holds Barred" match instead of as a silly "There Must Be A Winner by Pinfall or Submission?" Nevertheless, this ended up being a pretty enjoyable bout. Sure, it was no five star classic, but utilizing the extreme environment definitely worked to their advantage. The Spear through the table at the end to Kane was a sweet (albeit cliche) spot and a fine way of giving Reigns a win before contending for the WWE World Heavyweight title. The post-match backstage bit was also intriguing as it drove home the message that it's every man for themselves in the Fatal 4-Way.
Most of the matches on the Payback card were hyped throughout the night, but the match that received the most focus was the Fatal 4-Way. I was already looking forward to that match after everything we've seen on Raw the last two weeks, but their last ditch effort to add even more interest in the match was well done. It just would have been nice if some of the other advertised matches were hyped better, specifically the Ziggler vs. Sheamus and Cena vs. Rusev matches. Regardless, I must say I'm looking forward to getting fresh feuds and storylines coming out of the pay-per-view.
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