This pay-per-view had a significant number of long simmering feuds that were bound to explode. But there were several matches that felt like there was something missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
CESARO vs. SHEAMUS (United States Championship)
These two men are not known for waxing philosophical on the microphone. They are smash-mouth, in-your-face brawlers and the lead up to this match gave only a taste of the physicality. Cesaro is bringing out the best of Sheamus as the latter has not been that impressive since returning from his last injury.
Sheamus pulled out more high spots than he’s had in a while, while Cesaro put on match of the month contender, just like he always does. The crowd, who has been completely behind Cesaro (currently a heel), for the past several months, are going to force upper management to bump him up to main event status sooner than later. The Celtic Warrior though, retains his title, by the skin of his teeth.
CODY RHODES & GOLDUST vs. CURTIS AXEL & RYBACK
While not the strongest tag match at a pay-per-view, the Rhodes boys once again more than earn their keep. Ryback and Axel are far from horrible ring workers, but perhaps they should tame their social media comedy routine or Twitter wars with Konnan and focusing on tightening up their mic work (Axel) or both mic and ring work (Ryback). Winning this match really doesn’t warm me to these guys as they didn’t show us anything innovative or exciting.
RUSEV vs. BIG E
As expected, this was a short match that let the powerhouses bruise each other up without getting too winded. Both men switched it up early on and utilized their uncanny agility for some impressive high spots (Big E’s suicide dive was quite unexpected). I thought the one flaw to the match was having Rusev win with his submission, The Accolade. With Big E’s strength, it wouldn’t have been hard to believe that he’d have the strength to break the hold. I hope this is just the opening salvo in an extended program between these two human brick walls. The fans seemed to agree.
KOFI KINGSTON vs. BO DALLAS
Before I had a moment to question how the hell two, for lack of a better term, curtain jerkers got a match at this pay-per-view, I got my answer. Kane, who has been on a destructive rampage since donning the mask once again, came out to deliver some punishment. Dallas wisely got out of the ring, leaving Kingston to fend for himself. Kane obliterated Kofi with a Chokeslam, then a Tombstone Piledriver. Dallas delivered quite the
hilarious motivational advice for the fallen Kingston.
WINNER: No Contest.
ROB VAN DAM vs. BAD NEWS BARRETT (Intercontinental Championship)
I’m not the biggest mark for the WWE version of RVD, as his matches against non-high flying opponents aren’t the greatest. And despite Barrett’s entertaining vignettes and promos, his ring work, even four years in, still is not as crisp as it could be. Despite all of this, these two men had an impressive contest. Barrett pulled out some new moves and Van Dam showed quite a bit of aggression unseen from him in a while. This was quite a treat and Barrett is on his way to becoming a true name in this business.
WINNER: BAD NEWS BARRETT
BRAY WYATT vs. JOHN CENA (Last Man Standing Match)
Bray Wyatt is more over than the TV series Firefly (sorry fans, it was too good to pass up). It is this fact that makes me question putting him in a match against ‘Super’ Cena that Cena never seems to lose. But Wyatt did his damndest to make you believe otherwise. He dished out AND took just as much punishment as Cena did. The Usos and the Wyatts had a nice exchange to shake things up. But despite the bright spots, this match ended exactly how nearly everyone on Earth expected it to.
WINNER: JOHN CENA
ALICIA FOX vs. PAIGE (Divas Championship)
I feel so bad for Paige. She’s so talented and deserving of being the youngest Divas champ of all time. But it’s no secret that Paige has little to no legitimate competition in the Fed. She could really show off her skills against the other equally talented women when she was in NXT. On Raw and SmackDown, she has Natalya, Tamina, Naomi…and then there’s everyone else.
Alicia Fox clearly defines ‘everyone else’ and defines the problem with the Divas division. While this match had its moments, as long as failed lingerie models with two left feet and no wrestling ability continue to litter the roster, Paige won’t have the opportunity to put on the five-star pay-per-view matches that I know she’s capable of.
THE SHIELD (SETH ROLLINS, DEAN AMBROSE & ROMAN REIGNS) vs. EVOLUTION
(TRIPLE H, RANDY ORTON & BATISTA) (No Holds Barred Tag Elimination Match)
Last month at Extreme Rules, these men left it all on the mat and The Shield stood victorious. This time around, Evolution systematically dissected the Hounds of Justice. But as Ambrose stated last week, you might put the Shield down, but you won’t keep them down. They rallied back and eliminated Batista and Orton post-haste. The Game though, held his ground for quite a while, courtesy of his sledge hammer. But the numbers game eventually proved to be too much and Triple H suffered a flying curb stomp from Rollins, then a spear from Reigns.
WINNER: THE SHIELD
A good, if not great, pay-per-view event. What were your thoughts of WWE Payback 2014?