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May 13, 2015

Your WWE Payback preview: Odds stacked against Seth Rollins, but Kane holds key to victory

The next WWE pay-per-view is aptly named Payback, as almost every match on the card is a rematch of sorts from past weeks of Raw and SmackDown and even dating back to Extreme Rules and WrestleMania. But that’s the beauty of an event like Payback, because it means the end of a lot of feuds that have been long and drawn out, or so we hope. While I’m a huge fan of long feuds in today’s professional wrestling, some feuds are best just left with one or two matches.

Feuds like John Cena and Rusev entertain me, but there comes a point where we’ve seen them together about as much as we can. The two have been feuding since February, and with Cena having a two wins to one advantage, Rusev almost has to win to keep his heat. If Rusev goes under to Cena for the third time in a row, everything WWE has done to build him up as a new superstar goes away. That match scares me. I honestly think they’ve done Rusev no favors save for his win against Cena at Fastlane.

But there’s also more on the card than just that match, including a Fatal 4 Way for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the WWE Network for free right now and watch Payback on Sunday night, and Elimination Chamber on May 31st!

Who will walk out of the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland victorious Sunday night? Here’s how I see it based on the current card:

Payback Kickoff Show

The Ascension vs. “Macho Mandow” and Curtis Axel

This past Monday on Raw, Mandow and Axel took part in a match one-on-one before The Ascension interrupted. However, Axel and Mandow got the better of Konnor and Viktor, and shook the universe when they shook hands with each other in the middle of the ring. Harkening back to the 80’s nostalgia of the Mega Powers with Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, the duo of Mandow and Axel will probably get a lot of traction in the next few weeks. If there are any two superstars on the roster that could pull this off, it’s probably both Mandow and Axel. And that’s why I think The Ascension will finally be buried and gone after Sunday night.

Your winners: “Macho Mandow” and Curtis Axel

King Barrett vs. Neville

These two have had some pretty good matches on television lately, along with the one on the Extreme Rules Kickoff Show last month. In fact, this is a rematch of the King of the Ring Final from last week in which Barrett Bull Hammer elbowed his way to the crown. The high-flying intensity of Neville has brought some refreshing paces in matches he’s involved in, as matches involving him aren’t slow and prodding like, say, John Cena matches are. That doesn’t mean Cena can’t wrestle great matches, because he can, but too many superstars wrestle with that slow style. Neville isn’t one of them.

Barrett has done his fair share of losing, especially in the last few months. His last run as Intercontinental Champion was laughable and forgettable. I’m hoping this new run as King Barrett will rejuvenate him and have the booking team allow him to rack up some wins that he sorely needs. While I’m a huge fan of Neville, I think Barrett wins here.

Your winner: King Barrett

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus

This one will be a good ol’ fashioned grudge match. These two faced off last month at Extreme Rules in a “Kiss Me Arse” Match – a match that Ziggler actually won but wound up kissing the arse of Sheamus due to a post-match assault from the Celtic Warrior on the victor. Ziggler is looking for revenge, and I’m thinking there could be an opposite occurrence at Payback in which Sheamus wins, but Ziggler somehow winds up as the last one standing.

This feud has been built on pretty solid grounds, but without a championship involved, it seems like “just another match.” With Daniel Bryan’s recently forfeited Intercontinental Championship being the prize for Elimination Chamber’s main event, this match is really just going to be a hard-hitting grudge match. I’ll take Sheamus.

Your winner: Sheamus

2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship

The New Day [Xavier Woods, Big E, Kofi Kingston] (c) vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd

After Kofi Kingston and Big E captured the tag team title last month, I thought that Cesaro and Kidd would win it back rather quickly. I thought it was way too early to pull the titles off of them as they were putting on some great matches and getting really good reactions from the crowd. The past few weeks have allowed me to sit back and think, and The New Day has simply blown me away with how they’ve embraced their roles as heels while not completely showing heel-like traits like the “normal” heels do. And their feud with Cesaro and Kidd has given us some good matches, so a two-out-of-three falls match seems like icing on the cake. I don’t expect The New Day to lose their tag title anytime soon, but I said the same thing about Cesaro and Kidd last month at Extreme Rules. But, I think The New Day has made tremendous strides in getting over with the WWE audience that the company will give them more time with the titles, likely by nefarious means. Perhaps the Freebird Rule will play a role? Can’t wait to see.

Your winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champion: The New Day

“I Quit” Match for the United States Championship

John Cena (c) vs. Rusev

I’ve been no stranger to saying this has been one of my favorite feuds the last few months, despite John Cena gaining the upper hand the last two times. While Cena’s U.S. Championship Open Challenge has given us some great matches over the last few weeks on Raw, I still think there’s mileage to be had with Rusev as the United States Champion. I also believe having Rusev go under to Cena three times in a row on pay-per-view completely undoes everything WWE has done to build Rusev as not only a credible threat to everyone on the roster, but also one of the next big superstars. Cena has stopped his momentum dead in its tracks, and Rusev isn’t seen as an unstoppable monster anymore. He’s lost some of his heat, but not all of it, which is why I think a victory over Cena in this match needs to happen. I’m not sure how they’ll tell the story of Cena giving up, and it’s possible they just have him pass out, but I think Rusev regains the United States Championship on Sunday night. Maybe with some help from Lana.

Your winner and NEW United States Champion: Rusev

Fatal 4 Way Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose

This match was originally a Triple Threat Match with Reigns and Orton thanks to an interactive poll from the WWE Universe set up by Director of Operations, Kane, the night after Extreme Rules. However, the next week, Ambrose won a match against Rollins, securing a spot in the main event thanks to a late stipulation added by Kane just before the match. And I think there’s a method to the madness in how WWE will be booking this come Sunday.

Why add Ambrose? Sure, he’s arguably the most popular superstar on the roster right now and seemed lost with no feud going into Payback, but I think that’s exactly by WWE’s design. What does WWE get out of having Rollins pin Orton or Reigns? Nothing good. Having Rollins pin Ambrose doesn’t hurt anyone nearly as much as Ambrose will remain as over as he is, and that’s exactly the reason why I think the company decided to add Ambrose to this match – so he would be the one to get pinned. And that’s why I believe Seth Rollins will regain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That and because Triple H said if Rollins didn’t retain, Kane would be fired. I don’t see that happening, even in a professional wrestling storyline.

Your winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins

The card looks solid, and I think Payback will be a good show. All the talent will try their best to keep the subscribers who’ve signed up for the WWE Network’s free month of May just a little bit longer. The next pay-per-view is just two weeks after this event, as the Elimination Chamber serves as the final selling point for new Network subscribers to renew their subscription. Not only that, but the recently vacated Intercontinental Championship will be up for grabs in the Chamber. Look for some fast-paced booking after this event is over, but I also expect this event to serve as one of the better ones of 2015 so far.

Don’t forget to check out my Payback review on Monday morning right here at The Philly Voice. Enjoy the show!