It’s been a whirlwind week in WWE. Roman Reigns returned to the ring, destroying both “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, who had just won the Universal Championship, and Braun Strowman, who had just lost the Universal Championship. On Friday’s SmackDown, Reigns aligned himself with Paul Heyman. Does this mean he’s a bad guy now? Is he going to be new Universal Champion?
At least one of these questions will be answered at Payback, as The Fiend puts up his title in a triple threat match with Reigns and Strowman. We’ll also see Keith Lee hopefully have a breakout performance against Randy Orton, as well as Bayley and Sasha Banks defend their Women’s Tag Team Championships against Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.
This page will be updated with results and analysis once the main show.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
The women’s tag team champion defend against their strange bedfellows opposition next.
Matt Riddle defeats King Corbin
Matt Riddle pinned Baron Corbin after a Floating Bro corkscrew moonsault, which Michael Cole implausibly called “the win of Matt Riddle’s career.”
Riddle entered the match in a huff, with Corbin having tweeted something about Riddle being a dodgy husband. Despite his frustration, Riddle was caught off guard during his entrance by an ambushing Corbin. Matt Riddle is super fun to watch, but this match was taken too much by Corbin with only flashes of Riddle’s exciting offense.
After the match, we see Riddle walking down a hallway, congratulating himself on beating Corbin and being able to move on to greener pastures. This of course led to Corbin attacking him from behind, which means there’s more Riddle versus Corbin in our future.
Rating: 2.75 stars.
Big E pins Sheamus
This was positioned as a match between two wrestlers jockeying to become a top SmackDown star, with Michael Cole telling us several times before the bell how important this match is. In the end, Big E beat Sheamus after a Big Ending.
It was a fairly long match that ended up rather good. Sheamus worked over Big E’s leg throughout, dropping Big E knee-first into edge of the ring and applying several submission holds, including a heel hook. Though the middle of the match felt a plodding, it ended up working towards a heated finish. That finish came abruptly though — just when it seemed like Big E would begin to mount a comeback, he instead hit the Big Ending and got the three count.
The bout also played into the story that Big E needs to get more serious to succeed as a singles star. When he had the upper hand on Sheamus, he started his patented hip gyrations only for Sheamus to take advantage of the lapse in concentration.
While the match wasn’t particularly exciting, it did do a solid job of putting more fuel behind Big E’s singles push.
Rating: 3 stars.
Bobby Lashley wins US Championship
Payback’s main show opens with Bobby Lashley defeating Apollo Crews to win the United States Championship. After the match, as Lashley posed with his Hurt Business associates Shelton Benjamin and MVP, Apollo Crews jumped Lashley from behind, but was fought off by Benjamin and MVP. Crews’ music played to end the segment for some reason.
Not much to say about this basic match. It started out with Lashley scoring some amateur wrestling slams on Crews and involved brief distraction from MVP and Benjamin. Lashley took most of the match, Crews mounted a comback but ended up tapping to the Full Nelson. A to B match.
The plus side is that the US title goes to the Hurt Business, which has the makings of a really strong faction. Hopefully this is the beginning of momentum for Benjamin, MVP and Lashley, as the trio has main-event potential.
Rating: 2 stars.
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan beat The IIconics in an 9-minute kickoff-show match.