WWE Payback 2014 Blu-ray Review

Payback1June PPVs for WWE are typically a mishmash of finishing feuds and planting the seeds for bigger ones building up to Summerslam, one of the original ‘big four’ PPVs. Ones like Payback can be ‘sleeper’ PPVs that deliver far better than expected, and actually have the benefit of low expectations going in. With The Shield still staying strong and Evolution not giving up after their loss at Extreme Rules, it was inevitable that a ‘final’ rematch would take place, and a No Holds Barred elimination tag match was set up after Triple H with the Authority once again abusing their power. On the road to Payback, Dean Ambrose was forced to defend his US Title in a 20-man battle royal, ending his long title reign by losing to Sheamus. Roman Reigns also had a tough ride, losing to Bray Wyatt in a six-man, and then being hit with a triple power bomb by Evolution. The feud was bitter and had to end one way or another.

As well as the main event, John Cena and Wyatt continued their very tough and personal feud by finishing with a Last Man Standing match. The pairing of Cesaro and Paul Heyman paid dividends again as the Swiss Superman got a US Title shot against Sheamus, while Bad News Barrett defended his Intercontinental Title against the former WWE and ECW champion Rob Van Dam. Much of Payback’s focus was on the young stars including Bo Dallas, Rusev and Paige, with everyone eager to make a good impression, especially with the future of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship up in the air. Would the young guns come out of Payback looking strong or would the old guard stand their ground?

Payback Pre-Show

Mask vs Hair Match: El Torito vs. Hornswoggle

In one of those feuds that seem never-ending, these two manage to put on yet another surprisingly entertaining contest. It’s surprising that Hornswoggle has been with the company since 2006 but there’s something about him that apparently entertains some people. Personally I miss the combination of him and Finlay, but here we’re putting him with the former little bastard working with 3MB in their last PPV before 2/3rds were fired. Again it’s one of those harmless pre-show matches that get the crowd going, and a nice end to their work together.

PPV Card

US Title: Sheamus (c) vs. Cesaro (with Paul Heyman)

Cesaro and Heyman are a curious dynamic, one which you wouldn’t think would work that well, although Cesaro’s strengths have always been in-ring and not on the mic. The main problem with Heyman at the moment is that when he’s got Brock Lesnar, you have to wonder why he’d worry about representing anyone else, and so Cesaro almost suffers in the way Ryback and Axel did, in that the ‘new’ Heyman guy is almost an afterthought. Sheamus holding the US title could be seen as a step down for him but hopefully it’ll give the title some prestige to have guys like these fighting over it. Both men have a hard-hitting style and work well together, but there’s no doubt they’re both in a strange limbo in their careers right now for different reasons.

RybAxel vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust

It’s nice to see the tag division getting some attention, and there’s no doubt that teams like Rhodes/Goldust, The Usos and The Wyatts have put on some spectacular matches over the past year or so. RybAxel on the other hand aren’t really there, and both guys are struggling to make their mark on the company, both as a tag team and as singles stars. Ryback can’t shake off the Goldberg chants and Axel, as good as he is in-ring, has no personality. Rhodes/Goldust on the other hand have had solid storylines since they got together and are both still very enjoyable to watch, especially Goldust. Rhodes should have a bright future but will he ever be as good as he could be?

Rusev (with Lana) vs. Big E

Rusev is on a real roll as of late, and luckily he has the in-ring skills to back up the dominant personality that WWE want him to portray. Throw in Lana alongside him and they are certainly a formidable team. Big E seems to be getting the opposite treatment with a lack of focus and no real clarity as to what they want to do with him which is a shame. Having been so over on NXT and such a strong champion, his main roster career has been anything but impressive. Is it too late to push him as the ‘master of the 5 count’ like he once was? Probably, especially considering his weakness on the mic, but these things can be worked on. Hopefully they won’t give up on him like Ryback and countless others. Both men are young and willing to push themselves to their limits to get attention and that’s clear here with a number of risks and impressive spots. It’ll be interesting to see where they are in a year or two.

Bo Dallas vs. Kofi Kingston

As annoying as he may be, Bo Dallas has one of the more fresh and enjoyable gimmicks in recent memory. Having gone on an undefeated streak through some of the lower card men, it seemed natural that he would start to take on guys like Kofi Kingston, who doesn’t really do much these days other than fancy landings. Bo is certainly one to watch and could be a solid mid-card act at this stage in his career, with great personality and a decent in-ring style. Here he shows he’s far more ready for the big stage now than he was when he first had a taste of the main roster, and who knows where he’ll end up. This was a bit of a non-match but still Bo is worth watching.

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IC Title: Bad News Barrett (c) vs Rob Van Dam

If there’s anyone that knows anything about a decent gimmick, it’s Bad News Barrett. Having worked hard on developing the character, he’s been rewarded with success on TV with it and the crowds have really gotten behind him. Barrett has been a decent hand since he made an impact with The Nexus and he really should have been a bigger player following that, but to his credit he hasn’t given up and he’s managed to find a place for him to succeed. RVD on the other hand tends to just show up and wrestle a few times these days, but there’s no harm in having him around to make the newer guys look better. Both him and Chris Jericho seem to do it because they love it, rather than because they have to, and they can still ‘go’ with the best of them.

Daniel Bryan’s Decision

After all the expert build up to Bryan’s win at Wrestlemania XXX, it’s a real shame that injuries have caught up with him and surgery was necessary. At this point, everyone dragged the storyline out just in case Bryan had a ‘best case scenario’ but as we all know, unfortunately that wasn’t to be. The storyline itself shifts onto Bryan’s wife Brie Bella who was threatened by Stephanie McMahon in a job vs. Title situation. It’s an interesting mix of reality and storyline that keeps Bryan in the spotlight as much as possible considering he can’t wrestle. Anything keeping him in the thoughts of the WWE Universe has to be a good thing.

Last Man Standing Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

Two polar opposites in terms of character, Cena and Wyatt are a perfect match-up for a feud. Cena is the clean cut hero while Wyatt is all about brainwashing and manipulation. Here Cena sticks to his ‘Never Give Up’ mantra and takes on the entire Wyatt clan with The Usos by his side. Wyatt has such an impenetrable character that wins and losses don’t seem to make much difference to him, and it’s a luxury that very few can enjoy. Guys like The Undertaker have managed to survive on gimmick alone for many a year – though of course his Wrestlemania matches are legendary, and Wyatt has a long road ahead of him to get anywhere near that stature. At the moment he’s doing a fine job, as are Harper and Rowan, and as a package they’re extremely enjoyable as the dastardly heels. Cena makes a fantastic face in peril and this provides solid closure to their war, even if the majority might be on Wyatt’s side!

Divas Title: Paige (c) vs. Alicia Fox

Fox is one of those Divas that WWE decides is interesting once in a while and pushes her against different title-holders, but there’s not been any consistency in her wrestling for ages. Paige, on the other hand, has a solid background in NXT and simply needs to find her footing as a character and get the crowd into what she has to offer. Unfortunately, this isn’t really a match that will blow people away but better things will come for Paige.

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No Holds Barred: The Shield vs. Evolution

This is a match that feels like the end – not only for this feud, but for The Shield as a unit. After all, if they can dominate three legends of the ring, then where else can they go after this? The match is as good as you would expect from all involved, and it’s a perfect collision of past, present and future. The Shield all look like stars coming out of this one, as they have done for months now, and the crowd are solidly behind them as babyfaces. Reigns especially has megastar written all over him and there’s no doubt that WWE sees him as the next big thing. As good as this match is, the real developments were on Raw after – that being Batista leaving again, and the split of The Shield to make for a truly intriguing Summer..

Payback delivers some great action even if some of the matches don’t have much of a storyline behind them. It’s hard to fault the efforts of anyone involved and it’s a really interesting time in WWE where they are solidly behind making future stars out of guys like The Shield. These are the ones that will be carrying the company for months to come, and HHH and others are doing their best to make them look as legit as possible. Sometimes you have to worry about the future of the wrestling business but between who’s dominating Raw and Smackdown and the new talent coming into NXT, everything looks bright right now and WWE is definitely one to watch over the next year.

DVD Extras:

Nikki Bella Weighs in On Daniel Bryan’s Decision

Renee Young Interviews Sheamus

Blu-ray Extras:

Monday Night Raw – 5th May 2014

20-Man Battle Royal for the United States Championship

Smackdown – 9th May 2014

John Cena & The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family

Monday Night Raw – 12th May 2014

The Shield Challenge Evolution to Clash at Payback

Bray Wyatt Promises to be the Last Man Standing

Paige vs. Alicia Fox

Monday Night Raw – 26th May 2014

Bray Wyatt Sends a Message to the Cenation

The Authority Asks Daniel Bryan to Hand Over His Championship

The Shield vs. Evolution Contract Signing

Payback 2014 is available on DVD and Blu-ray now HERE.

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