WWE returns to PPV this weekend, live from Chicago, IL with Payback – featuring Cena vs. Ryback in Three Stages of Hell (will there be an actual finish!?), Dolph Ziggler’s return to the ring after his concussion, CM Punk returns to his hometown crowd and much more!
Jim leads the Head 2 Head competition 20-6 to Tom’s 17-9. Can Tom close the gap here?
Pre-Show Match – Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow
Tom: Okay, so Sheamus takes care of Mark Henry last month and now gets a pre-show match? Well, it’s better than the big man Henry, not on the show at all. Sandow has done well as a singles character, exuding his attitude and pompous self well. This will be a delight for the fans, as the favorite Sheamus get the win and puts Sandow in his place.
Jim: Yeah...I don’t get how Sheamus ended up in this mini-feud either, other than it was something to do with him until they need him for another thing. If anything I’d love to see this feud as a way to elevate Sandow, but yeah, that doesn’t seem in the cards. Sheamus gets the win for sure here.
Divas Title Match – Kaitlyn (C) vs. AJ Lee
Tom: I like the set up for this match, with Lee being revealed as the “catfish” secret admirer of Kaitlyn. It fits great with the loony Lee of old and I think it is the psychological trick needed to throw Kaitlyn off her game. AJ Lee wins to become Divas Champ.
Jim: AJ Lee finally gets the Divas Title that she should have had long ago. She is money, hope WWE continues to see that. A reign of her as Divas Champ & Dolph as World Heavyweight Champ will be fun to watch!
IC Title Triple Threat – Wade Barrett (C) vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel
Tom: Originally scheduled with Fandango in Axel’s spot, I really thought he was set to win the Intercontinental Title here. Fandango goes on the shelf with a concussion and the hot Axel gets added in. This is somewhat tricky, because I think WWE still likely wants the title to get to Fandango…but now because a matter of if that will happen versus when. Axel has been built well and seemingly will continue to be pushed well, but would that be boosted more by a title around his waist? Lastly, poor Barrett. I think WWE really has dropped the ball with him. Since I think that Fandango is a future IC champ, I will pick The Miz here, with my thinking being that he drops the title to Fandango at some point.
Jim: I’m with Tom in that I think Fandango was going to get the title here. So, now the question becomes, do they go to a holding pattern of The Miz until Fandango beats him for it, do they just leave it on Barrett and figure out where to go from there, or do they change course and give Axel something to do besides get weak “wins” over top guys without ever actually beating them? I think Axel could work in the long term plans, but they have to start having him beat people other than SIn Cara cleanly. I think that happens here and they give themselves the chance to tell a cool story of Axel holding the same title that his father so famously held back in the day. Curtis Axel wins. On a side note, totally agree with Tom about Barrett. I suppose he could win Money in the Bank and get elevated (though if you win it you have to lose a crap ton of matches sometimes before cashing in, like Bryan and Ziggler), but dang, he just seems lost in the shuffle which is a damn shame.
United States Title Match – Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Kane
Tom: I really like this extension of the fantastic stuff between The Shield and Kane, Bryan and Randy Orton over the last month. Battling Kane is just another step on the ladder of increased spotlight for Ambrose and his talent to be on display. My only wondering is whether or not this will have a clean finish. I will lean towards that and my pick is Dean Ambrose.
Jim: Totally agree that the matches between The Shield and Orton, Kane & Bryan have been awesome and I love the chance for Ambrose to continue to show what he’s got in singles action. Rollins and Reigns will get their chance eventually in singles (and are doing a very nice job in tag action right now), but for right now, Ambrose is the singles star. I could see a DQ win for Kane here, but they just did that Monday, so I say Ambrose gets the win here. One thing is for sure, he’s keeping the title one way or another.
WWE Tag Team Title Match – The Shield of Reigns & Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton
Tom: On paper, this might be the match I am most looking forward to. This just seems like it has unlimited potential to deliver and Bryan has been on fire as of late in the ring. While I don’t see a title change likely at all, like the match before the storylines in play and going on here have been great. Shield retain their titles and win.
Jim: Yeah, NO chance that Orton and Bryan win the tag titles here, actually much more of a chance of miscommunication leading to an issue with them for a while here. So, Rollins & Reigns get the win, but I totally agree, this match should be awesome to watch. Bryan is still the best in the world if you ask me (Punk is right there with him), Orton has been on fire lately, and Rollins & Reigns have come into their own as a team. Easy contender for Match of the Night!
World Heavyweight Title Match – Dolph Ziggler (C) vs. Alberto Del Rio
Tom: Del Rio gets his singles re-match here and Ziggler returns from his concussion. I have no doubts these two deliver a great bout. I still think that the issue with Jack Swagger remains open as well, so I would not be surprised to see him stick his nose in as well. I am going with Ziggler to win and retain, no doubt about it!
Jim: It seemed on Monday that they were moving Swagger away from the World Title picture and into issues with other Mexican stars like Sin Cara. So, I don’t see him playing a role here. Either way though, there is no chance in hell they’d put the title back on Del Rio this quickly. They’ve waited far too long to see what Ziggler can do on top to go back now, and Ziggler has more than earned it. I hope he is all healed up, and I hope they have a hell of a match before Ziggler retains and he and AJ become the “power couple” of WWE!
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
Tom: There has been considerable speculation surrounding this match. Will Punk be there? Will the match take place? Is there a rift between Punk and Paul Heyman? Without buying and selling every rumor out there, how this match occurs and plays out will likely set up for a very interesting Summer for CM Punk. I think there is something awry in his relationship with Paul Heyman and be it Curtis Axel, Brock Lesnar, another “Paul Heyman Guy” or Paul Heyman himself, I see Punk getting shafted and Jericho getting the win.
Jim: I think Punk shows up, as it’s Chicago and I can’t see him not being there. I’ve also read on PWInsider that he is scheduled to be back this weekend, so hopefully he’s at least there. I agree with Tom, there is a ton of ways they can go here. My guess is they do something here where Heyman, Axel or Lesnar “accidentally” causes Punk to lose and start the simmer to an eventual split. Jericho gets the win here (if there is a match at all!)
WWE Title – Three Stage of Hell: John Cena (C) vs. Ryback
Tom: Interesting choices in the 3 Stages here: Lumberjack, Tables and Ambulance stipulations. Of course the Ambulance carries over from last month, and the other can be built and sold well. Unlike Jim, who doesn’t hide his disdain for “Super Cena,” I haven’t been nearly as irritated with some of the stuff that Cena has survived and come back from. Now, come Sunday and depending on the brutality of this match, my belief and opinions may be tested. No matter what happens, I hope the props and gimmicks are enough to carry this match and keep the fans into it. If WWE doesn’t pull the trigger on Ryback here, I think they are stupid! Ryback wins.
Jim: Tom is dead on with his understanding of my disdain for the “Super Cena” who can’t be beaten, I know I made that really clear in last month’s react. Three falls with three different stips is hard to keep people invested in for the length of time needed, so I think they’ll have their work cut out for them, and probably will keep one of the falls (maybe the table match?) pretty short. I agree with Tom that if they don’t pull the trigger on Ryback here, they are stupid...but unfortunately, I think they are stupid...so, we will differ on one more pick here, as I am going with John Cena and I expect I may have a lot to say about that in our React!
So, who do you think walks away with the titles this Sunday at Payback? And what will happen with CM Punk? It all goes down this Sunday night on PPV!