WWE Payback 2016
I normally don't do pre-shows, but Ryback/Kalisto was dope so I'm doing it. There was also a Ziggler/Corbin match that had Corbin dominate the entire match, only for Ziggler to win with a surprise roll up OUTTA NOWHERE. Fuck Ziggler. I'm not watching that again.
Ryback vs Kalisto WWE US Championship
I guess the US title is just a pre-show thing now. Whatever. They're in Chicago and Ryback starts the show by doing CM Punk's entrance. Which is awesome. Who's dumb as fuck now you smarky pieces of shit? Fuck the Chicago fans. Fuck CM Punk. Fuck Colt Cabana. Fuck Pro Wrestling Tees. Check out that weight belt: Pre-Showstopper. Ryback is the best. They had a pretty fun match on the WM pre-show that was done in front of a probably 10k in a 100k stadium. Fans are all over Ryback with the Goldberg and You Can't Wrestle chants, but Mr. Dumb as Fuck Injures Everyone probably saved Kalisto's career by craning to catch him on a botched dive. So fuck you, Chicago. Very clear speed vs power story here. Ryback is being a real piece of shit. It's wonderful. Mauro loses his fucking mind for a tornado DDT on the apron from Kalisto. It's much nicer than "OH MY". He's JR calling an Austin match in 1998 hyped. After a lot of back and forth action, Kalisto wins with the Salida del Sol after Ryback misses a splash. Title retained. Very, very fun match. Ryback has been very fun for 2-3 years now. These two have great chemistry. Easily the best match Kalisto has been in during his WWE career. Probably Ryback's best match, too.
Vaudevillains vs Enzo Amore/Colin Cassady Number One Contendership
Before the match, New Day came out to talk about the show and the NEW ERA. NEW ERA. In fact, their promo was a lead in to the opening show video. It was weird. Xavier hit on Beyonce and told her to hit up his DMs. About three minutes into this, Enzo tries to do slide under the ropes spot he did at Takeover London. This time, he slid to late or was thrown too hard, and his head bounced off the rope, then violently off the mat, instantly knocking him out. The match was stopped shortly after, but not before Simon Gotch GRABS THIS DUDE WHO IS CLEARLY IN ANOTHER PLANE OF EXISTENCE BY THE HEAD AND NECK. What the fuck? OBVIOUSLY Enzo is fucked up huge. He's basically giving his death rattle and this mother fucker is just yanking him around by the neck. You couldn't tell Enzo was dead? Fuck. Enzo was tended to by medical staff and stretchered away. Off to a great start.
Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn
I'm really not interested in seeing them have another match and another feud. Outside of the brief time of Sami being in NXT before KO, they've been joined at the hip for over a decade. Give it a fucking rest. Let them take a year or two off and establish themselves on their own. Sami better shoot his barber. That is the worst fade I've ever seen. Jesus Christ. He had to have done that himself. No way someone got paid to do that. Sami hits a dive about a minute in. This should be a super heated brawl, right? Why are they doing intricate reversal sequences and flips off the ropes instead of fighting each other. Update on Enzo: He's able to communicate and move his extremities. KO at least has the right idea of throwing Sami shoulder first into things, but he also takes a bunch of time to bow and soak in the adulation of the crowd. Normally it would be heel work, but here, no one is booing either guy, so it feels weird since he should be just beating the shit out of Sami. When he's not playing to the crowd, he's usually stomping Sami's dick in the dirt, at least. Sami, however, keeps throwing in flashy moves when he's on offense. Just HIT EACH OTHER. This is good when they're doing that. When they start doing cool moves, they can fuck off. This is not the match or feud for cool movez. But speaking of MOVEZ, why isn't the wrist clutch neck breaker KO's finisher? It looks brutal, and far more damaging than the pop up powerbomb. This just devolves into PWG-lite, with both guys taking turns to hit big moves, then kick out, then do it again. These fans love it, but this is NOT at all what the build has called for. It's not even a "they know each other so well so they have counters to everything" kind of match. It's literally just big spot big spot big spot, brief selling on the mat, big spot big spot big spot. Including KO taking a backdrop on the apron and Sami hitting his dumb torpedo DDT. But don't worry, as soon as they got back into the ring, KO won clean with the pop up powerbomb. What should have been a violent brawl just turned into move spam and kicks outs, then KO immediately wins after Sami hits his super move. Stupid. After the match, Sami is ejected from the ring, and KO decides to be mean to Byron before taking his spot for the IC title match.
I swear that Sami/Nakamura felt more heated and personal than this, which makes no sense at all.
Cesaro vs The Miz WWE Intercontinental Championship
Fuck Cesaro and his James Bond gimmick. You know what no one thinks of when they think of James Bond? Awkward, bald Swiss guys with thrashy metal music. Cesaro blows throw a ton of moves (including some of Okada's signature spots), and then Miz focuses on Cesaro's recently repaired shoulder, which is all taped up. He does this for the next few minutes, but don't worry, Cesaro is not hampered at all from it, as he's able to still do the deadlift superplex and giant swing. This shit ain't on Miz. I don't want to see any "Miz sucks" shit online when he's trying to use psychology, but Cesaro is ruining the story of the match so he can get his shit in. He also does some truly TERRIBLE looking running uppercuts. Running is probably not the right word. It was something between a slow jog and fast walk, with a weak as fuck impact. But hey, his arm is just fine, don't worry about that. He can also easily throw Miz completely over his head to hit an uppercut. If I'm an agent, I'm getting all up in Cesaro's shit for completely fucking the story of the match like that. He even gets to kick out of the SCF, one of the most protected finishers in the company, for no reason. And right after, Sami returned to attack KO, even though he lost completely clean. At least he's actually FIGHTING now. Their brawling heads up to the apron, so the ref didn't see Miz tapping out (to a crossface, with the bad arm being the one with the most leverage). Cesaro knocked Sami and KO off the apron, then immediately lost the match to a roll up OUTTA NOWHERE. Title retained. Post match, Sami got hit with another powerbomb, Cesaro got superkicked, and KO was left in the ring holding the title. Great. Extreme Rules can get a nonsense four way. Not only did Cesaro completely ruin the story of the match to get his spots in, but also killed a finisher for no reason, since if Miz was going to win by distraction and roll up anyway, what was the point in sacrificing his finisher?
TO THE BACK. Stephanie McMahon speaks with Apollo Crews, who is not booked on this show.
Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho
This is based on...Jericho being mad that Dean did a talk show? I think. Who gives a fuck. Jericho in 2016 is garbage, and Dean Ambrose is something well below that. This is the same build that Piper/Adonis had from WM3! That wasn't a good match, either. Mind you, this actually HAD some kind of build last Autumn when Jericho walked out on Ambrose after a tag match with Roman against the Wyatts. To my knowledge, that hasn't been mentioned at all for the past month. More updates on Enzo: He can still move, still going through tests. He is still able to communicate. Dean doesn't even look like a pro wrestler right now. I don't mean his actual look (which is very suspect), but he doesn't look like he thinks he's in a wrestling match. He appears to not even be going through the motions. Kevin Nash in 2000 levels of not giving a fuck. Maybe he felt like he deserved a night off after taking 300 suplexes at WM. Whatever the reason, the lack of effort is palpable. This means Jericho has to put in double the effort, and he's just not capable of doing that anymore. He also still does face spots, which is weird since he's basically back to 2009 era Jericho. There is literally NOTHING going on in this. No story, no flow, no anything. It's like watching the AI play WWE 2K16. In true Yuke's fashion, they still managed to fuck up every major spot. Dean wins with the double arm DDT in an interminably long and shitty match. Then he stood around spitting for some reason.
TO THE MAURO. Mauro Ranallo speaks with AJ Styles about Gallows and Anderson. I know AJ is not that much taller than Mauro, because if he is, that means Mauro is about 4'8". Elsewhere in the back, Shane McMahon speaks with Sasha Banks, who is also not booked on the show. What is the message being sent by having both McMahons in the back talking to black talent that isn't booked for the show?
Charlotte vs Natalya WWE Women's Championship
Bret is with Nattie, and boy does he look like he should not have been there. He's clearly not recovered from his cancer surgery, he's limping, and he looks to be in pain just making it to ringside (Nattie helps him to ringside, too). Nattie seems to have Charlotte's number, and that's really the point of the build to this: That Nattie could win as long as Ric wasn't involved, which is why Bret is here. Charlotte for some reason kicks the second rope as Nattie enters the ring underneath it. It did absolutely nothing, but Nattie sold it anyway. Moments later, JBL points out that it didn't connect. After Nattie already sold it and it was a transition into Charlotte going on the offense for a while. King of silly at that point. It takes almost 2/3rds of the match before Charlotte starts working the leg. Quite a few ugly looking spots in this. Ric has legit turned into a crazy old coot. It's disturbing. Nattie kicks out of Natural Selection, the moonsault, and gets out of the figure eight. That's...all of Charlotte's finshers, and Nattie got out of them all in a row. Charlotte then locks on the sharpshooter and Charles Robinson immediately calls for the bell before runs away. That's right. MONTREAL SCREWJOB finish in 2016! Bret and Nattie then apply sharpshooters. Bret looked like he was going to fall over and was in absolute AGONY while doing it. It's a fucking bummer and I'm not going to gif it. Can't believe they asked him to do this so soon after beating cancer and having a wrist surgery that left him unable to even grip pens. Especially when his presence did nothing for the match or the story, it was just to get a post match pop. All it shows is that Charlotte will always find a way to cheat her way to victory, but at the expense of killing her finishers. She better not ever win clean again, and it's going to be pretty hard to keep coming up with flukey ways for her to win for another 3-4 months.
This wasn't nearly as good as their NXT match, or even their Roadblock match from February. In theory, Nattie should get a rematch, but if she loses that (which she no doubt will), she's basically Lex Luger to Charlotte's Ric and won't be taken seriously has a contender until Charlotte is no longer the champion.
Vince McMahon comes to the ring to make his decision on which of his children will run Raw. After he easily defuses CM Punk chants, Steph and Shane come out to state their cases for 15 minutes. Stephanie claims Shane is myopic and misogynist. Shane's argument is based on headlines from prestigious websites like DDT Digest, SK, SN Sporting News, and a Bleacher Report headline that talked about Shane being the new on-screen boss. Straight up just acknowledged the storyline. Oh, and he basically said that the last 7-8 years of WWE has sucked and you're an idiot if you've enjoyed it. What a great message to send to your audience. Despite this whole thing being predicated on Vince picking one or the other, he picks both. SWERVE. Or something. Shane is really bad at speaking for some reason. He didn't used to be so bad, right? He always sounds marble mouthed and like he's forgetting his lines. Weird.
AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns WWE World Heavyweight Championship
They can't save the show, but they can elevate it a bit. Enzo Update: Concussion, all other tests are negative. This should be dope. Roman looks swoll and like a total dick head. AJ's stupid hair is very endearing. He's also been probably the best guy in the world for the past 3 years, and Roman is very dope when not matched up against Alberto Del Rio, who thankfully wasn't on this show. Roman immediately shows off his size and power advantage. AJ tries to negate it with lots of kicks to the thigh. AJ baits Roman into losing his temper and falling into rookie traps. It's a great way to illustrate AJ being a vet for people who might have only been exposed to him in this WWE run. It's a nice story of AJ being good as long as he can keep some distance, but getting absolutely smashed when in Roman's reach. And smashed he gets. Roman looks like a beast muscling AJ around, and AJ's bumping style makes everything look killer. AJ knocks Roman for a loop with a kick and is able to hit a big flurry of strikes. Roman gets to the ropes from the calf crusher, but after all the kicks, Roman's leg is getting fucked. He can't even get away from AJ on the floor, as AJ comes flying out with the Phenomenal Forearm that sends both through the announce table. AJ tries to drag Roman into the ring, but he can't get him in before 10. He reluctantly climbs back in at 9 and wins via countout. Why he didn't just break the count is anyone's guess. This brings Shane McMahon out, who restarts the match. A couple of minutes later, Roman gets disqualified for punching AJ in the balls as AJ came off the second rope. Stephanie comes out and restarts the match with no DQs. They go AT it from this point, just knocking the shit out of each other, brawling in the crowd and whatnot. Roman takes an awkward fall over the guard rail and appears to stab his dick on the corner of the table. I'm sure it hurt like a bitch. They were showing a replay when AJ did a knee drop to the back of Roman's head while on the table, which is a shame, because that's mean as fuck. Superman punch counters the flying forearm. AJ somehow kicks out. Roman immediately hits another one. Then the Bullet Club run out. God damn, Gallow's gear is HORRIBLE. Like maternity wear Jncos. Fuck. They hit the BOOT OF DOOM. AJ hits the forearm. Roman got a rope break. So many false finishes and so much fuckery in this. The Usos come down way too fucking late. Roman throws AJ into them and then dives on the whole group. Not cool, Uce. I'd be pissed if my cousin did that shit to me. AJ gets absolutely flattened with a spear. Roman wins. Title retained. DOPE match. Very dope.
This reminded me a lot of Bret/Diesel from the Rumble in 1995, in terms of both being faces (although Roman leans more tweener than Diesel did) yet doing whatever they have to do to win, the size difference, and even the fuckery with the finish(es). And I think that match might be the match of the 1990s for the WWF, so it is high praise to make the comparison in a positive light.
AJ/Roman was great. AJ continues to be probably the best in the world, Roman continues to be one of the best in WWE, and they put on a match as good as I had hoped. Ryback/Kalisto was very, very fun. Everything else can get fucked. Signature moves and fishers mean absolutely nothing in WWE right now.