WWE Payback 2020: Reactions & Review

Here are my final thoughts on Raw and SmackDown Live’s WWE Payback 2020!

The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan) vs. The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce)

Reactions: Gotta hand it to both teams – they certainly went all-in on their attire for tonight’s Kickoff Match affair. So the story being told here was the uneasy reunion of Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan. Their entrance would lead you to believe that their relationship was improving, but the miscommunication that transpired between them in the ring broke that facade real fast. They ended up winning the match in the end, but there are still some cracks in the foundation of their second attempt at the Riott Squad. The match itself wasn’t anything to write home about (that botch from Liv Morgan during her hot tag comeback was pretty cringeworthy), but at least it got its point across.

Rating: 1 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Apollo Crews (c) vs. Bobby Lashley (with MVP and Shelton Benjamin) (WWE United States Championship)

Reactions: This was miles better than Apollo Crews’ SummerSlam Kickoff Match contest with MVP. What we got here a was a rougher, faster, and far more spirited clash between the US Champion and an always game Bobby Lashley. A pissed off Lashley is vastly more entertaining in the ring when compared to an MVP that’s a bit too broken down to perform at an acceptable level these days.

Apollo put in one of his best efforts to date against Lashley and Lashley came off like the unstoppable badass he should’ve been from the very moment he stepped back into WWE. I’m glad Apollo wasn’t completely run over by Lashley here – they were on equal footing and gave this match a lot of life from start to finish. We got a title change here that resulted from a better than expected encounter.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Big E vs. Sheamus

Reactions: This was different from your usual big man barnburner. Instead of going full steam ahead by bashing each other with power-based maneuvers from the start, Sheamus focused on working over Big E’s injured leg. Sheamus’ leg work was basic and straight to the point, which took away from the overall quality of this bout during its opening to mid-portion.

Once Big E got a second lease on life, this bout livened up a bit and got more exciting from that point forward. Big E sold his injured leg well and still pulled off all of his usual risky spots (he even made the effort to cut Sheamus in half with his big spear through the middle ropes). The match I expected to see from these brutes from jump street truly came to fruition once Big E ran wild.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin

Reactions: I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. King Corbin may be insufferable under that whole king moniker of his, but the man has always been capable of working his ass off in the ring. And with someone like Matt Riddle across the ring from him, Corbin ended up looking even better than he usually does since Riddle’s a great dancing partner.

Corbin provided the high impact maneuvers, while Riddle provided the smooth submission work and vicious strikes. Corbin was in control for most of the bout, but his control portion was shockingly not a snoozefest. And once Riddle started getting his licks in, the match got even better. I never thought I would say this, but I’d be down to see this happen again. And judging by the post-match backstage assault Riddle took, it looks like we’re getting that in the near future.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Bayley and Sasha Banks (c) vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax (WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship)

Reactions: The BFF days of Bayley and Sasha Banks are getting ever so closer to coming to an end. And that’s due to the fact that their Women’s Tag Team Championship reign has now come to an end. This title match certainly had its moments – some good, then some sloppy and pretty hard to overlook. But the majority of this bout was good, though.

Bayley and Sasha used their speed and cunning nature to take down their foes, while Shayna went suplex/submission crazy to wear down her opponents. Nia Jax wasn’t her usual domineering self, which comes as a surprise – the other three women involved in this bout got in way more offense than the woman I figured would be putting in more effort than usual. This match didn’t overstay its welcome, plus the finish was pretty damn cool. Even with some of the more botchy moments, I still came away from this bout quite pleased.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton

Reactions: Keith Lee sadly still has that horrendous Sunday Night Heat jobber theme song, but at least his gear got a proper upgrade. I could still live without the tight Under Armour shirt, but the short tights he wore during this match are infinitely better than those basketball shorts he wore last Monday. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

So this match was way too short for my tastes. As soon as it was ready to kick into second gear, it ended outta nowhere. I was actually enjoying everything that was happening before Lee finished Randy Orton with a single Spirit Bomb. This match could have easily gone another 10 minutes and live up to the potential that everyone was expecting of it. Both men should have been allowed to go all the way with this second meeting between them instead of having it get cut short just to set up a future rematch on Raw (which is what I’m expecting to happen). This was fine but pretty disappointing due to its entirely too short match length.

Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Dominik Mysterio and Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy

Reactions: Dominik Mysterio is looking better and better in that ring! This match further proved that Rey Mysterio’s boy is getting even more comfortable in there and ready to deliver at a higher level in the years to come. I knew this match was going to be a good time and thankfully I was right. There were no visible hiccups between both teams to speak of here – all four men produced smooth transitions, cool counters, and plenty of high-flying maneuvers to enjoy.

That spot where Dominik got caught by both Seth Rollins and Murphy, then got planted with a Falcon Arrow soon after was pretty dope. Plus Dominik’s 619 into a Frog Splash combination proved that there’s a fountain of potential within him that he’s already tapping into. This was a fun affair that has me interested in where all four men go next. Murphy’s mistake at the end cost him and Pastor Rollins the match, so their partnership might be on the rocks. We’ll see if they can patch things up in time ahead of Seth’s Monday Night Raw rematch with Rey Mysterio.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Roman Reigns (with Paul Heyman) vs. Braun Strowman (No Holds Barred Triple Threat Match for the WWE Universal Championship)

Reactions: So the way this match kicked off was interesting. Braun Strowman and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt fought for the majority of this bout and pretty much added a few new spots to their SummerSlam 2020 matchup. And what’s crazy is that this version of the match they had last Sunday was better, to be quite honest. We even got the old superplex into the broken ring spot, which I always get a kick out of seeing.

And I definitely liked how Roman Reigns fully stepped into his new heel role since he popped up moments after his foes were severely weakened. The first half of this match was decent enough, but the second half was more intriguing due to the way Roman took advantage of his foes. With all three men competing at the same time, I’m sure this match would have been a lot more entertaining. But it’s pretty clear that this main event was used to tell a story and put over Reigns’ newfound heel act.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Match of the Night

Dominik Mysterio and Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy!

Final Verdict

Wow! So this was actually a tad bit better than SummerSlam, which comes as a surprise to me. While this show had a weak women’s Kickoff Match, it was less embarrassing than that eyesore of a match between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville from last Sunday. The rest of the card was full of better than average to good contests. One of them was way too short for my liking (Lee vs. Orton), however. The decision to end their match before it could even get going still has me scratching my head. Other than that slipup, Payback 2020 was a good show considering the fact that it was booked in a week’s time. Heel Roman as the Universal Champion with Paul Heyman by his side was a dope image to close this show out on.

Final Score: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

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