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WWE Payback- August 30, 2020
by Samoa Rowe
From the THUNDERDOME in Orlando, Florida.Our hosts are a mix of Tom Phllips, Micheal Cole, Corey Graves, Samoa Joe, and Byron Saxton at various times. Oh yeah, before I forget, this event inexplicably takes place a mere seven days after Summerslam, which featured the surprise return of Roman Reigns, who is either turning heel, or just playing the a** kicker he needed to be all along.
United States Championship:
Apollo Crews © vs. Bobby Lashley (with MVP and Shelton Benjamin)
Lashley goes right for some waistlock takedowns. Apollo gains some separation at ringside but gets distracted jawing at MVP and Benjamin. Lashley suplexes Crews chest-first onto the ropes. Lashley tuckers himself out and applies a chinlock. Lashley follows with a fallaway slam but Crews answers with an enziguri. Dominator by Lashley gets 2. High crossbody by Crews leads to a comeback flurry. Lashley kicks out of a standing moonsault and Crews hits rapid German suplexes and a frog splash for a good nearfall. Right as I get a seizure from the nonstop camera cuts, Lashley delivers a chokeslam and Full Nelson for the instant submission at 9:22. This was okay, the action was well executed, but it didn't stray too far from the normal formula and story beats, **½.
Winner and new United States Champion: Bobby Lashley
Lashley and his Hurt Business buddies pose for some photos, and Crews jumps them for some quick shots before backing off. Talk about a sore loser.
On Smackdown, Roman Reigns revealed himself to be in cahoots with Paul Heyman. Robot interview lady wants a word with Heyman, and wants to know how he squirreled his way into Reigns' camp. Paul is properly dismissive and rude to her, channeling his inner Greg Popovich.
Keith Lee has a friendly chat with "legendary WWE Champion" John Bradshaw Layfield, but it gets awkward when JBL tries to sell him some hedge funds. Lee can't afford it now, so JBL says he'll get there soon, but no pressure on his first match against one of the best.
Sheamus vs. Big E
The issue here is Big E feels like he's been held back and Sheamus thinks the New Day propped him up. They trade waistlocks and Big E earns a throw. Sheamus traps Big E on the apron to smash his chest with clubbing blows. Big E misses a splash on and bounces off the ring frame. The match goes off a cliff as Sheamus slowly works over Big E's non-injured body parts. Big E comes back with some overhead suplexes, but Sheamus breaks a third with a headbutt. Uranage by Big E gets 2. Sheamus blocks a spear off the apron and hits a rough slingshot shoulder block. Belly to belly suplex by Big E, who loses his focus with some dancing, allowing Sheamus to hit an Alabama Slam. Big E survives a leg lock and nails the spear off the apron. The big spot doesn't matter as Sheamus puts on a heel hook and KO knee for 2. Big E counters the Brogue Kick into a powerbomb and finishes with the Big Ending at 12:16. Mostly well executed, but kind of dull, almost like 2010 Sheamus met 2012 Big E and agreed to stick to the script, **¼.
Winner: Big E
Big E gloats in Graves' face. Talk about a sore winner.
New robotic interview lady interviews Matt Riddle backstage. He's always motivated, bro, and people harsh his vibe, but he's the king of bros, this stallion is going to run over King Corbin. It's like they just took a bunch of hippie buzzwords and threw them into a blender. The next question is about Corbin needling Riddle for being a "failure at home" and he has nothing to say about that.
Wait... are they using Riddle cheating on his wife as an angle...when the woman he allegedly had an affair with is ACCUSING HIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT!?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? Am I off base? PLEASE TELL ME THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE I'VE MISSED FROM NOT WATCHING SMACKDOWN! I must be crazy, right?
Nia Jax doesn't like Shayna Baszler and knows the feeling is mutual, but they have to be wacky partners who hate each other and trade shoves before their big title match.
King Corbin vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle is so mad at Corbin that he... waves to the virtual fans and kicks his sandals off like a normal night at the office. This, of course, allows Corbin to cheap shot before the bell and put the boots to him. Corbin uses the announce table as a weapon and.. applies a GD chinlock. Riddle breaks free with martial arts kicks and a kimura. Riddle switches to a sleeper and Corbin slams him off his back. Riddle reapplies the sleeper and gets slung off. Corbin's offense is so boring, I actually consider calling off the review. This is a hobby for me, I don't HAVE to be watching this. Riddle hits a wild roundhouse kick to gain some space. Riddle makes a comeback and it's hard to cheer on a guy who cheated on his wife with someone accusing him of r*pe. It's one thing to "separate the art from the artist" but THEY BROUGHT IT UP ON THEIR OWN BROADCAST BY MENTIONING CORBIN'S TWEET! Anyhoo, Corbin hits Deep Six for 2 and I start to wonder if this match will ever end. Bro 2 Sleep and Floating Bro finishes at 11:15. DUD.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Corbin attacks Riddle backstage, because apparently their eleven hour match wasn't enough, so the feud must continue.
WWE Women's Tag Team Championship:
Sasha Banks and Bayley © vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax
Banks and Baszler trade kicks, with Shayna catching her with multiple head kicks in the buckles. Baszler ruthlessly throws Sasha and stomps her fingers. Bayley charges into an armdrag and hammerlock. Banks interferes as Jax gets knocked off the apron and immediately sells a knee injury. This allows Banks and Bayley to make quick tags to work Baszler over. Jax returns and catches Sasha on her shoulders to swing her against the barricade. Jax gets a hot tag or sorts and plows through Bayley. Sasha interferes with a chop block to Jax's bad knee, and the champs retake control. Jax swings Sasha into Bayley ant hits a Samoan Drop. Jax drags Bayley wrapped around her ankle into a tag to Baszler, who cleans house. Jax returns and piles the champs in the buckles, but Sasha fires back with a facebuster. Elbow drop by Bayley and Sasha tags herself in for a frog splash, but Nia kicks out. Sasha and Bayley share incredulous looks and struggle to hit a double back drop. Baszler's blind tag allows her to drop Sasha and put her in a leglock while simultaneously choking out Bayley, who submits at 10:18! This was a welcome change of pace and jolt of energy. They kept a great pace, avoided having the same old tag formula match, and built up to a surprisingly cool finish, ***½.
Winners and new WWE Women's Tag Team Champions: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax
Jax and Baszler are interviewed in the ring. Jax emotionally gushes over the win while Baszler keeps a straight face and says they might not be best friends but will be celebrating.
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton
Lee debuted on Raw this past Monday, I didn't watch, but it doesn't sound like it went well because all I heard online this week was whining about his new entrance music and ring gear. Orton tries to keep a slow pace and Lee makes him pay with a crossbody block. Orton demands respect and slaps and CHOPS the face. Lee shows some fire but Orton throws him into the buckles and then suplexes him through the announce table. Orton dishes out some Methodical Heel Offense, including the oh so special chinlock. Lee escapes and POUNCES Orton to the floor and returns the favor with a slam onto the announce table. Orton hilariously no-sells and hits his draping DDT. Lee blocks the RKO and hits a sitout powerbomb to win at 6:40. Well, this was formulaic, but it was short, and the right guy went over, **½.
Winner: Keith Lee
Heyman is startled by an impromptu interview, the big question being if Roman signed the contract for tonight's main event, which seems like a given to me, seeing as he vowed to win the Universal title. Heyman condescends some more and takes off.
Seth Rollins and Murphy vs. Rey and Dominik Mysterio
Last month, er, seven days ago, Seth beat Dominik in a surprisingly good match that delivered both creativity and drama. Dominik sneak attacks Rollins at the bell and 619's Murphy off the canvas. Dominik continues to hold his own and hits a springboard arm drag on Rollins. Dominik totally dominates Murphy and looks good at it. Rey wants Seth's "punk ass" and tears into him. Rollins cuts him off with a nice gutbuster. Seth slides Rey off the canvas onto Murphy's knees, and they pick apart Mysterio with quick tags. It doesn't take long for Dominik to get the hot tag, but Rollins cuts him off with a Falcon Arrow. Rollins and Murphy beat Dominik up instead. Seth misses a goofy dive and hits the barricade and Rey comes storming in with a hot tag. Seth dodges 619 but Rey reverses a powerbomb and kicks the face, but Murphy saves the match. Dominik blasts Murphy with a tornado DDT, but Seth ambushes with Sling Blade. Seated senton by Rey, but Seth answers with a backbreaker. Rey saves Dominik with a dive onto Murphy, but then flies into Seth's knees for a good nearfall. Dominik saves his father from a pinfall and Rollins and Murphy smash him into the rails. They do the same to Rey, but Mysterio then reverses a double team, causing Murphy to hit Seth with an enziguri. Rey rolls Seth into the rails while Dominik hits 619 and a frog splash on Murphy to win at 16:00! This might be an unpopular opinion, but I love this feud. It's brought out a great nasty heel edge to Seth, and Rey and Dominik are great sympathetic babyfaces as Rey is half blind and aging out, and Dominik is just getting started. This match had a strong game plan and was very well executed, I hope this feud continues, ***¾.
Winners: Dominik and Rey Mysterio
Video package for WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. He has the night off, but he'll be back in action at Clash of Champions.
WWE Universal Championship:
The Fiend © vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
This is a matchup days in the making, as Fiend won the gold at Summerslam, and Reigns made his legitimately surprising return after. I can't lie, I adore Fiend's entrance, with the spooky graphics and heavy metal version of "Live in Fear." With some better booking, this is a character I would gladly tune into to see. Anyways, Braun ruins it by attacking Fiend before the bell and tries to steal a quick win before Roman arrives. Fiend hits a crossbody block and Sister Abigail for only 2. Fiend follows with a uranage through the announce table! Meanwhile, Alexa Bliss watches backstage. Still no Roman. Fiend drags out a comically oversized mallet but Braun throws a wheelie chair at him. Fiend regroups and blasts the mallet into Braun's chest. Fiend uses the ring steps and barricade and Bliss seems interested backstage. Braun smashes Fiend into the set and then spears him off the stage and through a table. Back to the ring, Fiend catches Braun with a superplex, and the ring implodes. The virtual fans mark out, but this was not anywhere near as cool as when it happened in the past. Roman Reigns finally arrives, signs the contract with Heyman, and struts in with a steel chair. Roman demands a ref and fails to pin both guys. Roman blasts Braun with multiple chair shots for a nearfall. Fiend goes for a mandible claw but Reigns escapes via low blow. Reigns spears Braun and wins the title at 12:41. There should be little doubt about Reigns being a heel now. This wasn't great or anything, but was a clear upgrade over the Summerslam main event, this was at least a serviceable brawl, followed by a faux MITB cash-in, **.
Winner and new Universal Champion: Roman Reigns
Final Thoughts: I have to be honest, I disliked most of this very strongly, even more so than a lot of the star ratings would indicate. My hat goes off to the women, the Mysterio family, and Seth Rollins for saving this from the all-time scrap heap. I'd avoid this show if I were you, the highlights will be easy to find on Youtube.
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