Hot off The Biggest Party of the Summer, WWE Payback 2020 sought to capitalize on everything that didn’t take place at SummerSlam last week and also follow up on some of what went down on that show.
Last week’s pay-per-view had some major positives mixed with some awful negatives. Did Payback pull off a better show, or was it even more flawed?
With Roman Reigns back in the fold, several titles on the line, Keith Lee against Randy Orton and more, there was potential for a great night. But did WWE manage to capitalize on it.
It’s time to recap the results from Payback and break down the highlights and low points of the show.
How does WWE think this Retribution faction will succeed with the way they’ve been positioned so far?
The debut of the group was interesting. They were a collection of mysterious vandals who ruined the show and went on the attack with no clear directive in mind.
Soon after, fans were cracking jokes about how non-threatening they seemed once we got a better look at how small each of the members were. Since then, WWE has done nothing to turn things around.
With each passing show, Retribution does less and less. They did nothing at SummerSlam, followed it up with a random attack on the Mysterios on Raw, did nothing again on SmackDown and failed to show up here, too.
By this point, WWE should just give up. Enough weeks have passed that the momentum is gone.
Without a big statement to make up for the past month’s lackluster showing, the faction has nothing to keep the angle going.
Kickoff shows aren’t normally worth watching usually, and that’s magnified when the only match on them isn’t great and serves no purpose.
The IIconics vs. The Riott Squad wasn’t a No. 1 Contender’s contest, nor the first time they had clashed. Far from it. We’ve seen these four fight nonstop for the past two months.
A specific low point in this was teasing that Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott couldn’t trust each other.
The entire tale so far has been that they got over those fears. They’re now referring to each other as the unified Riott Squad once again and even came out with matching ring gear.
Good writers move a story forward; bad writers can’t think of something for the characters to do, and they have them forget all the lessons they’ve learned so they can retread the same storylines.
The Riott Squad is in no different a situation after this match than they were heading into Payback, which means this was a waste of time.
It was great to see Apollo Crews save his career by winning the United States Championship earlier this year. He had been flailing in the midcard for too long, and the title turned things around for him.
However, his run as champion had to come to an end sometime, and Bobby Lashley was the right man to take the belt from him.
While MVP continued to challenge for the title and failed, The All Mighty was always the true looming threat. Lashley made good on that by locking in the Full Nelson and keeping his streak of domination going.
Crews should be fine, especially with a potential draft coming up. In the meantime, Lashley will be able to take the U.S. title to a different level and become a big obstacle for someone else to overcome, which will be fun to see unfold.
Earlier in the night, Alyse Ashton told Matt Riddle about King Corbin’s latest tweet. That was a nice touch to turn up the volume on this feud and rattle The Original Bro heading into the match.
Instead of this being just another affair in which Riddle is carefree and having fun before he beats his opponent, he was positioned more as an underdog. Not only was that a refreshing change of pace for him, it was also a better story for the match itself to follow.
Corbin attacked Riddle during his entrance, which allowed him to be in charge for most of the contest. His power game was a tough obstacle to overcome, but The Original Bro had the finesse to pull it off.
All in all, this was a rock-solid match. It won’t go down in history as the most memorable part of this show, but it didn’t need to be. It only had to do its job in making both Superstars look great and it did just that.
Based on WWE’s track record with its tag team divisions, it’s more than reasonable to be upset that Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler are the new champions. The likelihood we’ll look back on this months from now and think it was amazing is very low.
Until we have that hindsight, though, we have to look at just what this event had to offer, which was actually kind of fun.
Baszler and Jax have made it clear they don’t get along despite partnering up for the time being. That was illustrated with The Queen of Spades immediately tagging herself into the match—a nice touch.
But they found the right chemistry during this fight that allowed them to overcome the odds and take down The Golden Role Models. A particular highlight was the finish itself, which saw Baszler force Bayley to tap out while Sasha Banks was tangled up in the same submission.
This is also one step closer to the Banks vs. Bayley feud, which can’t come soon enough.
All too often, WWE brings someone over to Raw or SmackDown from NXT and immediately kills their momentum. There normally isn’t any rhyme or reason to it, either.
The Ascension, EC3, Eric Young and countless others are examples of this poor treatment. Even someone like Ember Moon hasn’t been able to bounce back.
Had Keith Lee lost to Randy Orton here, it could have sent him down that similar path. Thank goodness that didn’t happen.
Admittedly, this contest could have been longer. And ideally, Lee would have his old theme and ring gear back.
That nitpicking aside, though, it’s a win in general that Lee has a victory over a legend such as The Viper. It will go a long way in making sure his credibility doesn’t nosedive and that the Raw audience will embrace him and get invested in his journey going forward.
The running story throughout Friday’s SmackDown was WWE producer Adam Pearce getting everyone’s signatures for this Triple Threat match. At the end of the show, Roman Reigns became the final man to be approached.
However, The Big Dog did not sign his contract and waited until midway through this match to do so, which makes zero sense.
At any point before he signed, Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman could have scored a pin to end the match. That would have meant Reigns watching his title opportunity go to waste.
It’s also disappointing WWE wasted a ring collapse on this. That was immediately tossed aside in favor of the « surprise » of The Big Dog finally entering the match and eventually winning the title.
WWE got in its own way here by overbooking the contest. Instead of just having the three juggernauts beat the life out of each other in what could have been a great main event, too many swerves were put in there and none of them landed properly.
If this is what we have to look forward to with Reigns as champion, it’s not a good sign. Hopefully, there is a more logical approach to the story after this mess.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.
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