The Shield's last hurrah...
WWE Payback 2014
Chicago, Illinois 6/1/14
1.) Hair vs. Mask Match - Hornswoggle (with 3MB) vs. El Torito (with Los Matadores): *3/4
So if you will recall, these had a....surprisingly fantastic WeeLC Match on the Extreme Rules Pre-Show, but the stakes have been raised in this rematch. If Hornswoggle wins, El Torito must unmask, but if El Torito wins, then Hornswoggle will get his head shaved bald. While this was nowhere near as entertaining as their WeeLC Match, it was ok for what it was. Both sides have played their roles really well, so at least there's that. At one point, Hornswoggle rips off El Torito's Mask, but he's wearing another mask, and this leads to El Torito getting the win! This then leads to Hornswoggle being led up the entrance ramp to the barber's chair, where his head gets shaved bald by Los Matadores & El Torito.
1.) WWE United States Title - Sheamus vs. Cesaro (with Paul Heyman): ***1/2
Before the match, Paul Heyman cuts one of his brilliant promos. Of course, with it being Chicago, the crowd was chanting for CM Punk almost immediately. Heyman addresses this in his promo, saying that he wasn't here because he was on the other side of town at the United Center watching his Chicago Blackhawks....lose to the LA Kings! That bit alone is why Heyman is so good.
As for the match itself, it was pretty freaking good! Of course it's pretty easy for me to get into Cesaro (with him being an ROH guy), but I'm a fan of Sheamus as well. I thought both guys worked really well together. It was just two tough guys beating the crap out of each other for a championship. What more could you want? Sheamus eventually gets the win with a small package to retain his title.
2.) The Rhodes Brothers (Cody Rhodes & Goldust) vs. RybAxel (Ryback & Curtis Axel): **3/4
While this match was added at the last minute, it has a story that's been building for a few weeks. There's been tension building up between Cody Rhodes and Goldust for several weeks, and it seemed like a breakup was coming sooner rather than later. Here they face off against Ryback & Curtis Axel. It was a fine match. Pretty basic WWE tag team match. For the time it was given, it was perfectly acceptable. Ryback & Curtis Axel pick up the win over The Rhodes Brothers.
After the match, Cody Rhodes takes the mic, and says that Goldust would have to find a better tag team partner, and walked out.
3.) Rusev (with Lana) vs. Big E: **1/2
Last time we saw Rusev on PPV at Extreme Rules, he defeated R-Truth & Xavier Woods in a Handicap Match. This time, he's facing Big E. While the match itself was a pretty short, it was entertaining. Big E had really good "Hoss Division" style match against Bad News Barrett at Extreme Rules, and he had another good one against Rusev. His spear through the ropes to the floor in really impressive. Unfortunately for Big E, he would get, in the words of Lana, crushed by Rusev, who wins the match with The Accolade.
4.) Kofi Kingston vs. Bo Dallas: N/A
Here we have our second match of night that was added onto the show at the last minute. The match never happened, however, as Kane came out and beat the crap out of Kofi. After he was laid out, Bo Dallas cut a promo telling Kofi to "Bo-lieve". I honestly don't get why this was on the PPV.
5.) WWE Intercontinental Title - Bad News Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam: ***1/4
Bad News Barrett won the Intercontinental Title from Big E at Extreme Rules. Here he's defending it against Rob Van Dam, who himself is a former multi-time Intercontinental Champion. While the match was nothing outstanding, it was still pretty solid. Barrett looked really good here, as did RVD. Solid stuff here from both guys. Barrett eventually puts away RVD with the Bull Hammer to retain his title.
Up next we had a segment that actually belonged on a PPV! WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan had been sidelined with an injury, and Stephanie McMahon said that Bryan, by this show, had to either surrender the titles or be fired. After telling Bryan & his wife, Brie Bella (who came out with Bryan) to set a good example for all the children out there, Brie decides to step in. Brie called Stephanie a bitch, and after some banter, Brie (in a shocking turn of events) quit WWE, and slapped Stephanie IN THE FACE!! Stephanie runs off embarrassed while Bryan & Brie celebrate in the ring.
6.) Last Man Standing Match - John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (with The Wyatt Family): ****1/2
To say this feud has had its fair share of ups & downs would be an understatement. They had a very solid match at WrestleMania XXX, but their Steel Cage Match at Extreme Rules was atrocious. Since they are 1-1, this match will decide the feud. The Wyatt Family get involved very early on but The Usos come out to the aid of Cena. We get a some solid action between Cena & Wyatt (with various near counts) before all hell breaks loose!! We saw a lot of crazy stuff after this point. Cena getting put through a table by Wyatt, Cena LAUNCHING the steel stairs at Wyatt, Luke Harper superplexing one of the Usos from the top rope, to the floor, through two tables!!!! Cena & Wyatt eventually brawl towards the stage area, where Cena puts Wyatt through some type of crate, and then another large crate on top of Wyatt, thus trapping him and rendering him unable to answer the 10 Count. This was just wild and out of control, in a good way. Really fun match to watch. Thankfully these two were able to redeem themselves from the disasterpiece we got the month before. Cena & Wyatt looked really good in here, while The Wyatt Family & The Usos got to shine through there involvement as well. My only complaint was that they feasibly could have had Wyatt win this (since Cena wouldn't be getting pinned or submitted in this type of match), but regardless, this was an awesome match.
7.) WWE Divas Title - Paige vs. Alicia Fox: **
Alicia Fox had recently taken on this gimmick where she throws ridiculous temper tantrums after she loses matches. She then went on a bit of a winning streak (with equally ridiculous celebrations) to earn this match with Paige. It was a fine match for what it was, but with it being placed between the two big matches on the card (like most Divas matches are these days), the crowd wasn't into it that much. I'm a big Paige fan, so I was happy that she won and retained her title.
8.) No Holds Barred Elimination Match - The Shield vs. Evolution: ****1/4
The Shield won their encounter at Extreme Rules, and this rematch was quickly made thereafter. For some reason, Batista is wearing all blue attire, while Triple H & Randy Orton are in black. This got #Bluetista trending on Twitter. One thing that really annoyed me about this match (and it annoyed a lot of other people as well) is that they started the match with a brawl, and then they wrestled a normal-style tag team match. In a No Holds Barred environment, this makes absolutely no sense (and this is not an isolated incident. WWE always seems to do this, especially recently, when it comes to these types of matches). It would eventually break down again, as one would expect. There was a long portion of the match, where Evolution just dominated The Shield, beating them within an inch of their lives it felt like. The Shield eventually started a comeback after Seth Rollins hit a big dive off a section of the entrance stage!! Batista was eliminated, then Randy Orton, before Triple H was finally eliminated, giving Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns a clean sweep victory over Evolution. While not quite as good as their Extreme Rules Match, this was still very good. Evolution looked strong as a group, but The Shield winning was the right move (though I don't think anyone predicted a shutout). There only a few gripes I had (the aforementioned issues with how they worked the beginning of the match, plus the match went a little long), but nothing much else besides that. The Shield stand tall (for what would be the last time, though we didn't know that yet) to close the show.
This was a pretty solid PPV from WWE. Unlike Extremes Rules from the month prior, this was a much more consistent show in terms of match quality. You had the two big Main Event Matches (Cena/Wyatt & The Shield Evolution) that really delivered, and are well worth going out of your way to see. The rest of the undercard was pretty solid as well, with matches like Sheamus vs. Cesaro for the United States Title leading the way. There really wasn't any bad match on the card, which is always a good thing. Plus you had a segment on the PPV that actually belonged on the PPV (as opposed to segments that feel like they belong on RAW). Definitely one of the better WWE PPV's of 2014.