Breaking News: WWE Payback delivers jaw-dropping verdict!

Payback is in the books, and now it’s time to have a no-frills discussion about WWE’s latest premium live event. No scores or star ratings, just a simple question: Did you enjoy Payback?

Here’s what I thought.

Steel Cage Match: Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus

Verdict: Didn’t like it

I can’t stress enough how physical this was. If seeing people beat the hell out of each other is your thing, this is the match for you, as Lynch and Stratus brutalized each other. Trish looked good here, which even Corey Graves noticed.

At the same time, this went on forever with countless false finishes and high spots. At one point, they took turns slamming each other’s heads into the cage, which took me out of the match. A vicious affair worth seeing, but it went long and did more than I cared to see, especially for an opening match.

LA Knight vs. The Miz

Verdict: Like it

John Cena, the host of Payback, made himself the special referee for this match, which led to an entertaining protest with Miz before Knight came out. Despite a few teased confrontations with the special arbiter, Cena was a non-factor.

This was pro wrestling done right. The babyface beat on the heel, who only got his licks in when Knight was distracted. The crowd was hot, and both men kept them engaged with a pace that was just right following the cage match. A 2023 version of a 1980s wrestling match that added to Knight’s popularity and proved that The Miz really is awesome.

United States Championship: Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Austin Theory

Verdict: Liked it

This was a solid match that felt like a really good television match. Sponsored by Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the visual branding at ringside and on the Titantron was distracting. The closing sequence was innovative and took me from feeling indifferent to leaving me saying, “Ooh.” Nice work.

Tag Team Championship: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs. Judgment Day

Verdict: Liked it

Dubbed a Steel City Street Fight in honor of Pittsburgh, this was as violent as it was comedic and featured everything from kendo sticks to trash cans to tables. There was also a scary spot where Kevin Owens did a Swanton bomb from the terrace section of PPG Paints Arena that saw him make more contact with the concrete floor than it did with his intended target.

Overall, it was wild and had the crowd in a frenzy, yet was nothing I hadn’t seen a gazillion times before. Still, I respect the physical effort, though I question the methods employed. I loved the finish, and Finn Bálor stomping on the Steelers’ Terrible Towel to torment the fans was a beautiful touch.

Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez

Verdict: Didn’t like it

Though there were countless hard hits, this match never hit another gear. It was like waiting for a bomb to go off, but it didn’t. Despite the sluggish affair, Rhea Ripley looked amazing. Her athleticism and character work are second to none. She may be the best women’s wrestler on the roster (sorry, Charlotte).

World Heavyweight Championship

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