With the next WWE NXT special airing on WWE Network later this week (Wednesday at 8 p.m.), the main roster felt like it knew the pressure was on and it delivered on Sunday night with the WWE Payback 2015 pay-per-view.
Something about the show just felt different. There was more intensity, more drama. Everyone brought their A-game, sort to speak.
Credit Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler for setting the tone. As soon as the show went on the air, Ziggler and Sheamus delivered a fast-paced, super-hard-hitting match which resulted in Ziggler reportedly getting 10 stitches in his head following a headbutt spot. Ziggler, who was apparently busted open the hard way (legit), showed what blood can do to a match, but only if it’s done in moderation. WWE has a strict no-blading policy, so wrestlers purposely getting blood, as was common in the late-’90s and even into the early-2000s, is a big no.
Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania was cut open after his head hit the ring post. Ziggler again last night. Those are perhaps the only two times in more than a year that a WWE match has had a serious amount of blood involved. Blood isn’t necessary, but look at the reaction when it was present. Because we don’t see it often, the live crowd was on the edge of their seats. The viewers at home were on Twitter losing their minds over the amount of crimson that had masked Ziggler’s face. His blonde hair had turned a bright shade of red.
It added intensity.
I don’t think WWE needs to go back to an environment where there is blood spilled on every show, but if a rivalry is intense enough that it calls for it, they’re professionals. “Blading” shouldn’t be abolished, but it should be used in extreme moderation (once, maybe twice per year). Blood in pro wrestling can be an enhancement, but not a regular theme.
The action then just kept rolling, full steam ahead.
The Tag Title match was fast paced and action packed. The audience, both at home and in the building, had little time to breathe. There was constantly something happening on this show.
Bray Wyatt and Ryback wasn’t as fast paced, but brought a lot of brawling intensity. The Cena-Rusev I Quit match for the U.S. Title was both intense and somewhat innovative in how they pulled off the finish.
Any time Neville, who beat King Barrett by count-out, is on a show, you know there will be some flying, and the main event delivered in more ways than one.
Seth Rollins’ teasing a reuniting of The Shield, where Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns triple powerbombed Randy Orton through the announce table, drew the biggest response of the night from the crowd. It was only topped by the reaction of Ambrose and Reigns, and Rollins’ face when he realized the band was not back together.
Maybe it’s that the WWE roster knows that NXT is nipping at its heels. Every NXT show is critically acclaimed for its action. They say competition brings out the best in everyone. Part of me believes we saw that last night. NXT is going to bring it, and the WWE roster showed it wasn’t the only game in town.
1. I liked the finish of Cena-Rusev, but hated the commentary. There was one spot where Cena appeared to be unconscious. That left the commentary team wondering what would happen. Would Cena lose if he can’t physically say “I quit?”
Why can’t you lay out the rules beforehand…and if not, why wouldn’t the commentary team know the rules?
I know why it was there, it was there to add intrigue and to provide some extra emotion, but I thought it made the announce team look silly. Imagine Joe Rogan seeing something happen in a UFC fight, and not knowing the rule? He’d be fired, and rightfully so. It’s his job to know the rules, and inform the viewer. Same should apply here.
The answer should also be simple, at least in WWE’s universe. The first WWE I Quit match, that I can recall, was at WrestleMania 11 in Hartford between Bret Hart and Bob Backlund. It stemmed from the 1994 Survivor Series, where Bret lost to Backlund (Backlund won the WWF Title) in a submission match, after Owen Hart convinced Martha Hart, Bret’s mom, to throw in the towel. Davey Boy Smith was out cold on the outside. So the match was invented so that the wrestler needed to say “I quit.”
A submission match and an I Quit match, at least in WWE’s universe, is not the same.
2. WWE announced that the Tag Team Championship would be defended in an Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber on May 31. They didn’t specify how the match would work with the team concept, though.
3. WWE also announced that the Intercontinental Title would be decided at Elimination Chamber, also in an Elimination Chamber match.
Pre. R-Truth def. Stardust
Pre. The Ascension def. Axel & Mandow
1. Sheamus def. Dolph Ziggler via pin
2. Tag Team Title Match: The New Day [c] def. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (2-1)
3. Bray Wyatt def. Ryback
4. U.S. Title Match: John Cena [c] def. Rusev
5. Naomi & Tamina def. The Bella Twins
6. Nevill def. King Barrett via count out
7. World Title Match: Seth Rollins [c] def. Randy Orton vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns
Overall, a really fun show. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend checking it out on WWE Network before Raw tonight. All of the matches were either good or great, and the crowd really made it feel like something special.