WWE ThunderDome, Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
We’ve always said that a week is a long time in wrestling. The last seven days has been no different. Hot on the heels of Summerslam, more action inside WWE’s newest residence, the ThunderDome, as well as huge news in NXT, has the WWE Universe buzzing with anticipation. Our King of the Ring, Andy Spoors, is back on the wrestling beat…
Summerslam marked the first PPV event inside the all singing and all dancing venue the company is currently calling home. With fans now (sort of) back in attendance, everyone from the Superstars through to the event production team, feels like they have stepped up in a way only WWE could. The confidence to put on a PPV event only one week on, doesn’t feel like a decision that would have been made a couple of months ago.
The calibre of matches on display at SummerSlam was met with lips scrunched together and a slightly begrudging nod of the head by even the harshest of critics. Gone were the cinematic matches that had dominated social media conversations for the past few months. It was back to old fashioned ‘rasslin matches. Sure, there were a few gimmick matches, but the execution of the Loser Leaves WWE, Street Fight or Falls Count Anywhere matches all delivered and better yet, pushed storylines forward.
Maybe it wasn’t perfect and there were a few questions still remaining. Where was Alexa Bliss after her involvement in the main event picture? Where was the recent thorn in the company’s side – Retribution?
On the outskirts of Orlando’s city centre at Full Sail University, NXT wrapped up Takeover 30 with a new NXT Champion in the formidable shape of Karrion Kross. The relative newcomer to the black and gold brand conquered Keith Lee to capture his first title and separated his shoulder in the process. Eerily similar to the injury that forced Finn Balor to drop the WWE Universal Championship 2016, Kross, unfortunately, suffered the same fate. Bad news for Kross but a monumental match has been penned to crown a new champion.
A fatal four-way, 60-minute Ironman match between Finn Balor, Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa could prove to be not only a match of the year candidate but a match of the decade. All four men will no doubt put their collective minds together to create a masterpiece even with the biggest expectations firmly on their shoulders.
Getting back to matters on Raw and SmackDown, Payback provides an opportunity for storylines to progress and answer some of the aforementioned questions that fans may have been left with seven days ago. The huge return of Roman Reigns lit the touch paper as SummerSlam went off air, stacking the Universal Championship scene even higher than before.
A triple threat, no holds barred match (a slight misnomer in itself, as all triple threat matches are no DQ anyway) between new champion The Fiend, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns could shake the ThunderDome to its core. The teased alliance between Reigns and Paul Heyman only adding to the intrigue surrounding the match.
Since the return of analysis show, Talking Smack, Big E has elevated himself in his singles run through dropping truth bombs by plugging in to a different medium available to fans. That run will go through another rejuvenated Superstar in the shape of Sheamus. Both men have something to prove and could be the low-key stand out match of the night.
On the red brand, Randy Orton’s reign of terror continues, this time putting WWE Champion Drew McIntyre out of commission following a hellish match at SummerSlam. Three punts to the head on Monday mean debutant Keith Lee will be stepping up to stop the Viper’s malicious ways.
An impressive first WWE outing for Dominik Mysterio against Seth Rollins may have ended in defeat for the young Superstar, but the reaction to his performance was more than just positive. Teaming up with his legendary father, the tantalising prospect of a father vs son match in the future seems to dangle ever closer.
And what of the mysterious group, Retribution? Conspicuous by their absence last Sunday, it would take a brave man to bet against them having a huge impact at Payback. Was there too much to fit in on the SummerSlam card to include one of the bigger storylines currently occurring in WWE? Is this why Payback follows so quickly on the heels of the biggest party of the Summer? Will Sister Abigail make an appearance? Will Sasha and Bayley finally go their separate ways?
You’ll have to watch Payback to find out…
Full Payback Match Card & Rushonrock.com predictions:
Universal Champion “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns vs. “The Monster” Braun Strowman (No Holds Barred Triple Threat Match)
John: Roman Reigns
Andy: Roman Reigns
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Reese: Nia & Shayna
John: Nia & Shayna
Andy: Nia & Shayna
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton
Reese: Keith Lee
John: Keith Lee
Andy: Keith Lee
United States Champion Apollo Crews vs. Bobby Lashley
Reese: Bobby Lashley
John: Bobby Lashley
Andy: Apollo Crews
Dominik & Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins & Murphy
Reese: Dominik & Rey Mysterio
John: Rollins & Murphy
Andy: Dominik & Rey Mysterio
Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin
Reese: Matt Riddle
John: Matt Riddle
Andy: Matt Riddle
Big E vs. Sheamus
Reese: Big E
John: Big E
Andy: Big E
The Riott Squad vs. The IIconics (Kickoff Match)
Reese: Riott Squad
John: Riott Squad
Andy: Riott Squad
Summerslam prediction results:
Reese: 6 (out of a possible 8)