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Thom Hodkinson's Pay-Per-Review: Payback To The Future

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Hello once again everyone, your friendly neighbourhood Thom Hodkinson, here to drop my thoughts on this year's inaugural helping of Payback. Some fair excitement headed into this one, with the in-ring returns of both CM Punk & Dolph Ziggler for the Chicago crowd to enjoy, plus the delicious promise of a 3 Stages of Hell Match for the WWE Title.

So, as always, let's get right into the first match

Curtis Axel def. Wade Barrett & The Miz

Well done Joe, you've finally made an impact. Aligning the former Michael McGillicutty with Paul Heyman was a genius move. Having him feud with The Game, Triple H... Even more genius.
It could be said that throwing him this quickly into a title match will be an issue, but then again, WWE have a history of competitors winning titles in their debut matches, with Jerry Lynn & Santino Marella coming quickly to mind, so perhaps a quick title gain isn't so shocking. I'm also a fan of how the win came around, with Miz seconds away from a submission win, only for Axel to run in and score a pinfall victory. Nice moves and some great build for a Miz Vs Axel rivalry in the coming months. The IC title is in some dire need of momentum and I think they've finally found it.

Backstage: C'mon Mr Levesque, play nice...

AJ Lee def. Kaitlyn
C'mon, we saw this one coming. AJ has become the darling of WWE over the last 18 or so months. And having the WHC as he beau, and having the psychological advantage over her opponent meant that only one lady was going to walk out of there with the ugliest title of all time (Prove me wrong, folks)
Slight heart-stopping moment when Kaitlyn hit the spear, but ruined it by trying to add insult to injury. Foolish girl.... Wait, did I actually care about a Diva's match? Damn! Well done Ladies, you've finally caught some attention
Wyatt Family. Stop teasing me and please bring your creepy grappling to Monday or Friday nights A.S.A.P!

Dean Ambrose def. Kane
Still don't believe in The Shield? You will...
I'm such a fan of Dean Ambrose that even if he'd lost the title, I'd totally give him the biggest review and still call him The Future of all Wrestling.
Was the C/O ending a problem? For me, no. It shows that Ambrose used the rules to his advantage, making him seem cunning and conniving, just what his character needs & deserves. He's smart like a fox, and as US Champion he can prove it like never before. Kane also can appear strong in this match and he didn't tap or get pinned to lose. I think that mixing Team Hell No & Randy Orton up like this was a clever move too. It gives Kane & Daniel Bryan the ability to prove their quality as singles competitors. A fairly good match overall, and a well written ending to boot

I know I won't be the only guy to ask this, but How the hell did RVD get past the wellness policy on that one??? The whole world knows he's a weed smoker! Then again, Jack Swagger got arrested for it, and he's still making appearances.

Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler
Wow. Just.... wow.
From the word go, ADR brought the brutal and attacked Ziggler with such intensity, even I felt battered afterwards. Those constant shots to the head were crazy. And what a way to turn ADR heel & Ziggler face almost instantly. I know the fans in Chicago don't always support the competitor that WWE wants them to, but I can't find any reason not to feel bad for Dolph. His first title defence and he drops it to the very man he took it from.
By the way, since Big E Langston physically entered the match by shoving ADR, doesn't that make it a DQ win for the Mexican? I may be wrong, but I've seen DQ calls being given for a lost less than what I saw last night
My one and only hope from all of this is that we don't another saga like Orton Vs Christian were the title changes hands 8 times in 9 months, and rematch after bloody rematch. Keep it small and then add extras to it. Get Kane on the WHC run, or Big Show. Add a monster and mix it up a little.

CM Punk def. Chris Jericho
Tonight, the role of "CM Punk" will be played by Hugh Jackman... Seriously, those Wolverine-esque muttonchops are ridiculous!
I didn't think Punk would come back so soon. I really expected to see Chris Jericho standing alone in the ring waiting for Punk's music to hit, only to be given the W by forfeit. What better way to rile up the Chicago audience than to deny them their star? What better way to sell Punk's "I'm going away for a while" story than to have him make some no-shows?
Anyway, it doesn't matter what I think (Thank Christ!) Punk's return was welcomed by the Hometown crowd who've loved and supported him since day 1. His cheers and roars felt a little bigger at MITB 2011, where it felt like a loss that night would have left the city in ruins after the fans left the arena, but there was no doubt where the love lay in this toss-up. And didn't he just soak up every chant and cheer and roar and woop...
Say whatever you like, this match had it all. The back and forths, the insane dives, the incredible reversals, and THAT ending? GTS, into the corner, straight into another. Brilliant. Easily one of the best matches of the year so far. But what did I expect, it's Punk Vs Jericho. It always going to be amazing. So who's up for CM Punk Vs Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins?
BTW, does anyone know where I can buy a CM Punk/Black Flag shirt? I am dying to get my hands on one of those bad boys (Reply in the comments below, thanks)

The Shield def. Randy Orton & Daniel Bryan
I'm sorry, this match was.... standard.
You knew Rollins & Reigns were going to do their "win at any cost" routine.
You knew that Bryan was going to do his "I'm not the weak link, watch this flurry of attacks" routine.
You knew that Randy Orton was going to do his "Other 5 moves of Doom" routine.
Paint by numbers, standard as balls. NEXT

John Cena def. Ryback
OK, now seeing as this was technically 3 matches in one, I'll look at each section evenly
1. Lumberjack Match
I love & hate lumberjacks matches. Love them because you can see a bunch of superstars that don't often get the limelight (and won't do for much longer, if rumours are true) but it's the same reason that I hate them. You're not really watching the awesome in-ring action between two superstars, You're trying to remember the last time you saw JTG or whether that's Alex Riley or not. The only stand-out points on this one were some dodgy falling by the Lumberjacks whenever John Cena landed on them (Seriously, at one point it looks like Damien Sandow just fancied a sit down) and the fact that Ryback kept up the stat of John Cena never having pinned Ryback. Handy factoid, that.
2. Tables Match
Liked the idea of them basically playing steps vs table for a while, even going so far as to put one through the other. Nice image to show a likkle bit of carnage and destruction. I can't really remember how this ended. Either way, we all knew it would go down to a third...
3. Ambulance Match
While it was good to see the ambulance being torn apart and used as weaponry, the ending seemed overly-staged. While Extreme Rules' Stage-Crash provided some unexpected thrill, the idea of John Cena being so powerful he can drop a man through the roof of an ambulance is total balls. We all knew Ryback wouldn't win though, so who gives a shit?

Overall, a fair event. I expected a lot less, so was quietly surprised. Now, my favourite part of these idiotic reviews, MY WINNERS AND LOSERS


WINNER: Dolph Ziggler
"Wooah there Thom, Ziggler lost his match and his championship. How can he be a winner?"
Did you hear that crowd? They loved him! The sympathy for the guy was insane and playing on the concussion was a brilliant idea. Although I'm not a fan of the quick title reign, I can see a brilliant end game here that'll change a lot of guys in the company. I mean Del Rio is already back to being hated, who would've predicted that?
A high stakes rematch at Money In The Bank could be a highlight of the evening, and may even steal the show if done right

LOSER: Fandango
Ah, to go back to that hilarious night in April, eh? Fandango's gone off the boil ever so quickly lately and it was bound to happen. I reckon, given the great reactions from the Chicago crowd, Fandangomania could've got a second wind last night!

WINNER: The Divas division
Right girls, this is it. You got some respect last night, don't fuck this up.
Seriously, I know how this goes. A match that, for once, I didn't consider as a piss break, the very next night becomes more dull than watching a documentary about Dirt Farming at 4am. The Women have the ball, now it's time to run with it. AJ, you're up!

LOSER: Randy Orton
The ad campaign leading up to this event gave the feeling of a heel turn that everyone, including Orton, is hungry for. In fact, attacking Bryan after the match could've been the perfect time to do it. Instead, the writers are going to drag it out again and leave everyone frustrated. FORSHAME

WINNER: Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman
Yes indeed. This'll be the start of something beautiful for the Third Generation star. The future's bright, the future's Gold.
Paul's guys were 2 for 2 last night. I mean, he must be doing something right, right?

LOSER: Ryback
For a "Force to be reckoned with" you sure do have a pretty shit track record with PPVs. Not winning a single PPV match in nearly a year (MITB 2012) is a baaaaaad record to have

WINNER: CM Punk & Chris Jericho
Each man wrestled his heart out that night and made the best of each other. While it's true that CM Punk was more a winner than Y2J in practically every sense, having Jericho as your first opponent back to clear the cobwebs is a total dream. Thank you both for reaffirming my love of pro-wrestling

LOSER: Sheamus
Hey big guy, how's it going over there on the internet "kick-off"? Not as good as competing for the World Heavyweight Championship, is it? No....

WINNER: Rob Van Dam
An event that lasted nearly 3 hours and all that anyone can talk about is 50 seconds of promotional footage. The whole damn show is set to return and didn't the fans just love it? You could've given that crowd Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Undertaker Vs The Rock Vs Triple H in a Fatal 4 Way Hell in a Cell match, and all you'd hear throughout the night was "RVD! RVD! RVD! RVD! RVD!"

That's it for this edition of the Pay-Per-Review (You don't have to pay me... unless you want to, that's fine). Let me know what you guys think in the comments below and if you want, I can be followed on Twitter: @thomhodkinson.

Get ready folks, there's only a month until Money in the Bank!

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  1. goodomens's Avatar
    great review! awesome!
  2. TheGreatOne's Avatar
    Everything in WWE right now is great from the titles perspective except for the world title of course.
  3. JohnnyV123's Avatar
    Good review. I thought Dean Ambrose vs. Kane was an average match also. CM Punk vs. Jericho was good but probably the worst of their matches together.

    I really, really wish that people could stop complaining about things that don't happen like the Randy Orton heel turn. Appreciate or hate on the things that happen on the show, but don't knock it because it went opposite of the way you want.

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