Some call it retaliation, vengeance or redemption. WWE Superstars call it payback! In anticipation of the big event, the Icon Vs. Icon superstars are ready to offer up their predictions and thoughts, as Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, The Miz and all your favorites prepare to settle their differences at WWE Payback! The first pay-per-view of WWE’s New Era takes center stage this Sunday when WWE Payback comes to the Allstate Arena in Chicago. The action begins with the WWE Payback Kickoff, which airs live on the award-winning WWE Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. In addition to WWE Network, the Kickoff streams for free on WWE.com, the WWE App, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+.
Then at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, WWE Payback — featuring four championship contests, plus grudge matches and an announcement from WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon that will alter the fate of Raw forever — takes over WWE Network.
Let’s get you warmed up with an introduction to our writers and a look at the official theme of WWE Payback — Andy Black’s “We Don’t Have To Dance.”
ABOUT OUR WRITERS:
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake is a WWE aficionado. His lifelong love of professional wrestling has landed him at countless live events and even lead him to a tangle or two inside the squared circle. His favorite WWE performer of all-time is Shawn Michaels. His style is best described as a perfect blend of The Blue Meanie, Mr. Fugi, Corbin Bernsen and Tatanka.
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles has been watching wrestling since his emergence out of the womb on April 10th of 1992. A lifelong WWE fan, the first event he can remember watching was Wrestlemania 11. Since then, he has surrounded himself with the world of wrestling in multiple facets. Besides wrestling Dylan is an obsessive fan of both horror and comic books. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the MonsterMania Con on the east coast. You love him and he loves you! Follow him on Twitter at @thedylanlyles
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison is an unapologetic defender of the Backyard Wrestling movement that swept the nation in the late 90s. His dedication to winning the Intercontinental Championship Belt in WWE 2K16 is rivaled only by teaching his children how to properly sit on a Sharpshooter. His life was forever changed in January 2016 when he attended his first live NXT event in Chicago and was witness to the magic that is Sami Zayn.Follow him on Twitter at @almostgothim
INTIAL THOUGHTS ON WWE PAYBACK:
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: Hopefully I get a little payback (pun intended) this month and actually get more than one match prediction correct! This card has me excited as it has tons of potential to be great. Almost every match can be a show stealer. It’s certainly going to be excited to see some recent NXT callups (Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin and the tag teams) shine on the big WWE PPV stage. With that being said, here are my predictions for this month’s WWE Payback.
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: The Wrestlemania hangover is subsiding and I no longer feel burnt out on the product. Just in time as it seems like the Payback card is stacking up to be one of the best pay per views of the past decade. On paper the lineup sounds fantastic. Not even WWE can screw this one up…..right? Well, regardless, the in ring work we will witness on Sunday will be incredible and I’m looking forward to it. The quality of the show will all come down to booking. That being said, here are my predictions for Sunday night’s pay per view!
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: The WWE juggernaut invades Chicago, IL., (Rosemont to be exact) and we have a card full of family drama, friends turned bitter rivals, want to be talk show hosts, and some WWE gold up for grabs. This is Payback, folks. In the first pay per view since the epic fail of Wrestlemania, the good folks over at WWE seem to be heading in the right direction, booking an event that shows almost more promise than their biggest money maker. For the uninitiated, it would be like the NFL scheduling to Super Bowl contenders for their first pre-season game months after the Super Bowl left a bad taste in fans mouths. Who am I kidding. The NFL does that every year.
Pre-Show: US Title Match: Kalisto (C) vs. Ryback
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: In this match from Wrestlemania 32, the end result should still be the same. This should be an entertaining match with which to open the show, with Ryback dominating a sizeable portion of it. Kalisto will eventually mount a suspenseful comeback, retaining the US strap, further pushing Ryback down the WWE ranks.
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: Much like their contest at Mania, I completely forgot about this feud entirely. I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen either of them on Raw. Sadly, every bit of prestige John Cena brought back to the US Title has been erased. I’m hoping that WWE will not drop the ball with Kalisto. He’s a great worker and definitely deserves more. That being said, it could really go either way. It’s the kickoff match so I don’t want to spend too much time on it. I’m going with Kalisto to retain.
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: This match has me more excited this time around. In a rematch of their Wrestlemania match, these two titans are poised to kick off the night in exciting fashion. There is no denying Kalisto’s aerial ability, and Ryback has all the brute force in the world. A real David meets Goliath situation has been built between these two guys. In the first of many upsets of the night, my money is on Ryback walking up the ramp as our new United States Champion.
Tag Team Match for the #1 Contendership to the WWE Tag Team Titles:
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: I think I’m the only person not excited about Enzo and Big Cass being on RAW. I just can’t get into those guys. They’re good performers, but I wouldn’t buy them as champions. Hey, what can I say….they’re not The Rockers!!! (I had to get an HBK reference in there somehow!) In all seriousness, this should be a solid event, as both teams have met before in NXT and put on good matches there. This should be a fun match, with technical wrestling, brawling, and a bit of high flying from Enzo. While this will be a back and forth fight, the Vaudevillains should come out on top. What a fun, contrast of gimmicks and styles it would be to see the Vaudevillains against the New Day!
Winners: The Vaudevillains
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: Enzo & Cass are red hot! I’ve been following these guys since their beginning in NXT and they’ve really come into their own. The Vaudevillains are a hard working tag team with great in ring abilities. Not as charismatic on the microphone but a great tag team nonetheless. This tournament has been enjoyable and my prediction for this contest comes down to the prize. The winners of this match become number one contenders for the tag team championships. Those are currently held by the most over faction in recent memory, the New Day. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for hot charismatic face team A (New Day) to take on hot charismatic face team B (Enzo & Cass) at this point. That will be a fantastic program eventually but I don’t see it happening yet. I believe we will see an appearance by the Dudleys, costing Enzo & Cass their match. This will further the feud between those two teams and leave the Vaudevillains the number one contenders.
Winners: The Vaudevillains
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: I’ve been pretty stoked with what Shane McMahon has accomplished this past month. Lot’s of fresh talent and new opportunities. It’s been fun to watch RAW again. Two Tag Teams that have felt the benefit of Shane-O-Mac coming to the WWE Universe’s Aid are The Vaudevillians and Enzo and Cass. These four individuals have proven time and again that they’re willing to put in the work needed to succeed in the Tag Team Division. Again, I’m excited for the future of the WWE. There is so much promise amongst the young talent.
Winner: Enzo and Big Cass (Unless WWE Creative is SAWFT)
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: Corbin is another recent NXT callup, and while I’m not all that excited about him either, I think I could eventually buy him as at least an IC champion (if not WWE champion) as his dominating, bruising style allows him to dominate most of his rivals. Unfortunately, Nicky from the Spirit Squad will be up against the big Baron and will likely lose this one. Ziggler will work his tail off and will perform at a high level just like he always does, but Corbin (who should also put on a great match) will show Dolph the “End of Days”.
Winner: Baron Corbin
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: So far I believe that WWE has done a good job at making Baron Corbin a legitimate force in the ring. His matches are long enough to show off his strengths and hide his weaknesses. He will eventually reach top guy status as that is how WWE is grooming him. I have no doubt in my mind that Corbin will go over in this contest. I’m a huge Ziggler mark but I fear he is far from receiving an actual legitimate push any time soon. Unless there is a funny finish, I see Baron going picking up the win as clean as a whistle.
Winner: Baron Corbin
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: Many have felt that Baron is lacking in certain areas, even accusing the young man of taking some nights off, but honestly this guy has been putting in more than enough work since being called up to the main roster. I’m a fan of this guys “take no prisoners” mentality. In the other corner, you have Shawn Michaels reincarnated, Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is Mr. Charisma. A real charmer. These two going head to head feels like a b-movie sequel to the Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon twenty-five years after the fact. But I’m a fan of bad sequels, and I like this match. Dolph has all the tools needed to make Corbin a star at Payback, and these two are going to deliver a fun match that sets the tone for the night.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler, but the real winner is Baron Corbin’s young career and the WWE Universe.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: I’ve really enjoyed seeing this budding rivalry come to fruition over the past few weeks. The Lunatic Fringe and Lionheart have great verbal chemistry, and I believe that will create excellent physical chemistry in this matchup. Both man can fly, brawl and wrestle technically, so this one will have a little something for all types of WWE fans. This is a touch one to call: the easy call would be to say Dean goes over clean. I mean, what reason does WWE have to put Jericho over? However, this rivalry has the potential to be great, as great or greater than the Jericho/HBK rivalry (Yes! Another HBK reference!!!). That, coupled with Ambrose’s propensity for a little hardcore action (no double meaning in that phrase, I promise!) could make things interesting. So…..
Winner: Jericho by DQ
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: If you were to ask me a month ago who was going to come out of Mania as a top babyface I would have no doubt in my mind that that man would be Ambrose. Flash forward to today and Dean is nowhere closer to the top as he was before. His match with Lesnar was lackluster at best. It was a match that could’ve shot the Lunatic Fringe’s popularity to the moon. A win over Lesnar would further establish Ambrose as a SUPERSTAR thus creating an interesting contender for the new Champion: Roman Reigns. That’s how things should’ve happened. Instead Lesnar beat Ambrose in normal fashion and has not appeared since. Ambrose has been placed in a “Battle of the Talk Shows” program with Chris Jericho. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for this Jericho/Ambrose match. It’s been hinted at since their team up at the Network special months ago. I just feel as though Ambrose deserves a better program. His lunatic gimmick could be amazing but they are kind of turning him into the “funny crazy guy”….isn’t he so crazy and nutty?! I expect a good match between the two, but Ambrose needs this win.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: Well folks, I’d tell you to take a bathroom break, but you’d miss out on Icon Vs. Icon’s favorite drinking game. Only one rule: take the tiniest sip of beer possible when Jericho calls Ambrose a stupid idiot. Click it or ticket. Drink responsibly. Friends don’t let friends. Stay thirsty. Seriously, you’re going to go through a case of your favorite suds.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (w.Maryse) vs. Cesaro
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: Again, this one should have an easily predictable winner, Cesaro. He’s the hot hand right now and deserves a prestigious title run, but the Miz just won that belt, too. This will be a fun match, with The Miz drawing all kinds of heat from the WWE Universe and Cesaro bringing in cheers from the Cesaro Section each time he decks The Miz with one of his famous European uppercuts. I am a fan of both guys, and look forward to some good brawling form both men, and sneaky cheating form the Miz. Hopefully, Cesaro gets another chance, because he won’t win this one.
Winner and still IC champion: Mike “The Miz” Mizanin (w/Maryse)
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: Since Mania the IC title has been strangely booked. A fantastic moment for Zack Ryder quickly turned sour the following Monday night. He was beaten by the Miz who was then joined by a returning Maryse. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the stuff between Miz and Maryse lately. It’s been hilariously dumb without being flat out stupid. The Miz is a very underrated heel who always manages to get under the audience’s skin. Cesaro has always been fantastic and he’s only getting better. I love the James Bond-esque suit and his whole demeanor. His interactions with the Miz/Maryse these past few weeks have been incredibly entertaining and I don’t want them to end. I think this program will extend into Extreme Rules. I see Miz picking up the victory due to some shenanigans.
Winner: The Miz
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: Cesaro came back from his injury and (fairly) leapfrogged the entire roster when he became the number one contender for the IC Belt. The Miz lucked into the belt with some help from from Maryse. With Cesaro back at full strength following his injury, things aren’t looking awesome for The Miz.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: Wow! What a time to be a wrestling fan! This is the one I’m really looking forward to. El Generico and Kevin Steen have known each other for a long time, and have been friends as well as bitter rivals, which they are currently. When Owens initially encountered Sami Zayn in NXT, Zayn received one helluva beatdown. When the two gladiators wrestled on the big stage in NXT, Zayn put up a somewhat better fight, but was still dominated. I think their Payback match will be a much closer affair. Both men can brawl, with Owens having that edge. Both men can wrestle, pretty evenly. Both men can do aerial moves, even though Sami gets the huge edge in this department. This is a tough decision for me. However, I’ll go with…
Winner: Kevin Owens: (When will Sami get another big win over an established superstar? Huh, WWE?)
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: Definitely the match I’m looking forward to the most. This is the match that should’ve taken place at Wrestlemania. These two have competed countless times in the indies and Ring of Honor respectively. This will be there third match against one another since signing to WWE and it should be fantastic. The last two, taking place in NXT, were knock down drag out fights which left Kevin Owens dominating on both occasions. Monday night we saw a beautiful promo video discussing these two individuals’ past. It seems as though the NXT matches are “canon” and if that’s the case then Sami Zayn should go over on Sunday. That being said, I can also see WWE extending this feud for months. Regardless this should be an amazing contest. Zayn is possibly my favorite worker in WWE that isn’t part of a tag team so I’m going with him. Especially since he hasn’t had a meaningful win yet……don’t let me down dammit!
Winner: Sami Zayn
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: This match has been brewing for months. I admit I’m biased. Sami Zayn is a household favorite, but feelings toward the bearded Canadian heart throb aside, this match is the heart and soul of the night for most of the WWE Universe. Zayn and Owens have been going after one another since their friendship soured at the hands of Owens back in NXT. These two guys are true showman, delivering high quality entertainment at PPV and House Shows alike. Both contestants are fearless when it comes to doing anything and everything possible to grab a win. Zayn and Owens are two very bright stars in the future of WWE. We’ve been clamoring for it since Zayn’s music first hit at the Royal Rumble. Finally, we’re getting it.
Winner: Sami Zayn
Women’s Title Match: Charlotte (C) w/Ric Flair vs. Natalya w/Bret “Hitman” Hart
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: I’m pretty excited to see this one. Natalya hasn’t had a big match like this in a while, and she and Charlotte should put together a barn burner. I must say I am tired of seeing Ric Flair out at his little girl’s matches. Will she ever get a chance to grow out of his shadow? She is already very talented and doesn’t need him at ringside. This match should have loads of technical wrestling, and both women should hit the men’s signature moves: Ric’s figure four/her figure eight and Bret’s Sweet Chin Music, oops, I mean Sharpshooter. As much as I would like Natalya to take the belt off of Charlotte, I think we’ll have to wait until Sasha Banks does it at Summerslam (or Becky Lynch? Maybe? Please?) Winner: Charlotte
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: This match is basically a retread of the Natalya/Charlotte match from NXT Takeover two years ago……and that’s okay! That match was my match of the year for 2014. The women went out there and kicked ass. Thankfully Ric and Bret stayed out of the way for the most part. This is not something I expect on Sunday. The whole point of Bret being there is to prevent Ric from interfering on Charlotte’s behalf. I’m hoping they remain in the background and let these two incredible athletes have the match their lives. I see Charlotte retaining. There’s still money in a Charlotte/Sasha feud that we just haven’t quite seen yet.
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: I don’t think anyone saw this matchup coming after the night Becky, Sasha, and Charlotte had at Wrestlemania. A lot of headlines were made about the belt modifications and dropping “Diva” from the WWE Vocabulary, but some fans were left asking “What exactly changed?” Well those fans are blind. This Women’s Division has shook the foundation of what the WWE was built on. This division is continuing to evolve and it has been fun to watch. Natalya, with Uncle Bret by her side, looks to help move the progress of the division forward. Natalya has been a technician in the ring for years and has found herself atop the ladder once more.
Winner: Natalya makes Charlotte tap after Bret Hart keeps Ric Flair from coming to the rescue once again.
Vince Announces Who Will Control RAW: Shane or Stephanie
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: Not an actual match, but definitely worth mentioning. Lots of family drama here, and hopefully lots of Shane on tv as a result. I love that guy! Here’s what I think: Shane will be given control of RAW and Stephanie will be given control of Smackdown. We’ll have brand extensions again, which, honestly, should improve things. Linda may even come back. Who knows!
Winner: The WWE Universe, for only $9.99!!!!
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: Does it matter? If we learned anything from Wrestlemania it’s that the next night will reverse the decision anyway.
Winner: The McMahon Family
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: To even pretend to understand what is going to happen here is like trying to figure out why grown men watch wrestling. Don’t analyze it. Just sit back and enjoy it.
Winner: Shane McMahon
WWE Title Match: Roman Reigns (C) vs. AJ Styles
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: Will Anderson and Gallows be able to stay out of this one? Will the Usos be able to do the same? I’m not sure either team will be back in the locker room or in catering the whole time. AJ Styles’ unique offensive style will be on display and a sharp contrast to the bruising, hard-hitting style of Reigns. I forsee a lot of time being spent outside of the ring during this match, which will enable the outside forces to get involved. This match should end with a mess of superstars flying around the ring, but a clean victor will be declared, and this feud will continue.
Winner: Roman Reigns
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: While I look forward to the Zayn/Owens match the most, this match has my curiosity. The way this feud has been booked, along with the introduction of Gallows and Anderson, has been fantastic. The outcome can go many ways. One thing is for sure in my eyes though: Roman Reigns is leaving Payback with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. How he gets there is what’s keeping me interested. It seems as though creative is keeping Reigns as an inbetween guy, not the bad guy or the good guy……..just THE guy……*grown*…. However, I feel as though we have an opportunity to create three massive heels here. Imagine shenanigans ensue during the main event. This leads to interference by Gallows/Anderson. We believe they’re going to help Styles but instead they turn on him. Roman stares them down………and then attacks Styles as well. ROMAN IS THE THIRD GUY!!!! Haha. This would be fantastic. However, not likely. I’m assuming Gallows and Anderson will turn on AJ but Roman will have nothing to do with it. This will lead to a program between the former Biz Cliz members and allow Reigns to remain that neutral character. I do not anticipate an appearance by Finn Balor as I feel NXT needs him more than the main roster. Although, stranger things have happened. Reigns retains.
Winner: Roman Reigns
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: Roman Reigns has had a month of loud BOOs drowning out his promos and things are looking to get worse for “THE guy” at Payback, because the clear fan favorite is going to get screwed out of walking away the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. It’s not Roman’s fault. But the WWE Universe doesn’t care. His reign as champion is a result of their voices not being heard by WWE Creative. He’s just caught in the crossfire. That being said, Styles and Reigns are primed for a pretty great night. Much has been speculated as to how, but it is no secret that something big is happening. Ladies and gentleman, Finn Balor is finally coming to the main roster. And that is enough to make everyone happy. For 24 hours, at least.
Winner: Roman Reigns
FINAL THOUGHTS ON PAYBACK
Duke “The Barber” Dukecake: Another month, another set of predictions that hopefully fare better than my Wrestlemania 32 predictions! Best of luck to all who might be playing along!
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles: On paper this card is miles ahead of Wrestlemania. These are all big matches that could possibly steal the show. The in ring work will be incredible and it will all come down to the booking. I’m hoping creative got all of their “wild card” booking out of their system last month. No matter what happens, it will be a fun show. WWE Payback can be seen on the WWE Network this Sunday night for only $9.99.
“The Booty Man” Jeremy Morrison: It is always hard to tell what the future holds in the world of the WWE. However, the past several months have been a wild ride for fans and the wrestlers themselves. Hopefully, WWE Payback will set the stage nicely for an even more ambitious road to SummerSlam. And that’s the bottom line…
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.