The first-ever WWE Payback pay-per-view emanated from the All State Arena in Chicago (technically Rosemont, Ill.).
It was an eventful evening; so let’s get right down to business shall we?
Match 1: Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel – Intercontinental Championship Match
This was a typical triple threat match from the standpoint of you seeing mostly two of the three guys working against each other while the other is thrown out of the equation for a little bit.
The crowd was definitely into this match and popped when Axel landed a Perfect Plex, the finishing move of his late father “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig.
The finish comes when The Miz has a Figure Four locked in on Barrett. Axel, instead of breaking up the submission, puts Barrett on his back and pins him to win the title.
The crowd gave Axel a big ovation after the match while he paid tribute to his late father, who once held the Intercontinental title with great pride. It was a touching moment.
Winner and NEW champion: Curtis Axel
Match 2: Kaitlyn (c) vs. A.J. Lee – Divas Championship Match
This match was no classic by any means, but they both went out there and worked hard and exceeded my expectations, which weren’t very high to begin with.
A.J. eventually gets Kaitlyn in a submission and forces her to tap out to win her first Divas title.
Winner and NEW champion: A.J. Lee
Match 3: Dean Ambrose (The Shield) (c) vs. Kane – United States Championship Match
Ambrose took a beating from Kane, but somehow managed to retain his U.S. title from the Big Red Monster.
Winner and STILL champion: Dean Ambrose
After the match, WWE showed a video package hyping the return of Rob Van Dam. Van Dam at Money in the Bank July 14 right here in Philadelphia. Van Dam is very familiar with Philly as he was a star in the original ECW, whose home base was Philadelphia.
Match 4: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio – World Heavyweight Championship Match
Ziggler and Del Rio had a very good match, which the Chicago crowd was into. You can tell during the match, however, that Del Rio was working a more aggressive style than he has been doing lately.
He went to some lengths to beat Ziggler that a babyface such as him usually doesn’t go to. It eventually paid off as Ziggler was really selling his real-life concussion. Ziggler was asked by doctors if he wanted to stop the match on multiple occasions, but refused.
It bit him in the end as Del Rio picked up the victory — a shocking result, in my opinion.
Winner and NEW champion: Alberto Del Rio
After the match, Ziggler continues to sell the concussion, which even brought new Divas champ A.J. to tears.
When Ziggler finally heads backstage, Del Rio comes back out and cuts a heelish promo, which drew a chorus of boos from the Chicago crowd. The crowd was firmly behind Ziggler, which didn’t do Del Rio any favors, and the promo after the match pointed in the direction of Del Rio turning heel again.
In my opinion, this is a welcome move. I don’t agree with Del Rio winning the title, but if it means Ziggler chasing a heel Del Rio, I’m all for it. Del Rio was very dull as a babyface and WWE needed to add some intrigue around the World title.
Match 5: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
The long awaited return of CM Punk came Sunday night in his hometown of Chicago. The fans praised him from the moment his music hit and behind him the entire match. Punk gave love back to his hometown as he sported some Chicago Blackhawks-themed trunks in support of the team in the Stanley Cup Final.
As for the match, it was everything you’d expect from the both of these performers. It was back and forth and there were plenty of near falls.
Punk looked a tad rusty at times, but Jericho being in the match definitely helped keep things smooth in the ring.
The finish of the match comes when Punk hit Jericho with two consecutive GTS’ for the victory.
Winner: CM Punk
Match 6: The Shield (c) (Roman Reins & Seth Rollins) vs. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton (Team RKNo) – Tag Team Championship Match
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen these four guys work against each other, they always put on entertaining matches that all have their own unique feel.
Bryan was once again the most popular guy in the ring and had his usual great performance.
The only problem was Bryan and Orton had communication problems and routinely got in each other’s way. This proved to cost them as Orton stepped out of the way of a spear from Reins only to have Bryan get hit by it.
Rollins clears the ring of Orton, which left Bryan to take a sick finisher from Rollins where he steps on the back of his head and drives his face into the mat.
Winners and STILL champions: The Shield (Roman Reins & Seth Rollins)
Match 7: John Cena (c) vs. Ryback – Three Stages of Hell for the WWE Championship
The first fall was contested under a lumberjack match. The lumberjacks got involved a lot during this one as they beat on both Cena and Ryback.
Eventually, a full-out melee ensued between everyone around ringside, but Cena broke it up. Cena turned into Super Cena and came off the tope rope to the outside of the ring on top of all of the lumberjacks. It was a pretty cool spot considering Cena isn’t much of a high flyer.
The two combatants eventually got in the ring where Ryback put Cena into shell shock to earn the pin.
Winner of the first fall: Ryback
The second fall took place in a tables match. Cena recovered from shell shock to muster up the effort to put Ryback through a table to earn the second pin fall and send the match into sudden death.
Winner of the second fall: John Cena
The third and final stage took place in an Ambulance Match where the winner has to put his opponent in the back of an ambulance. This portion of the match started off with Ryback, who recovered quickly from going through the wooden table, putting Cena through the announce table.
The two made their way to the ambulance that sitting in front of the entranceway. They began to literally tear the ambulance apart by breaking off the door and hitting each other with other parts of the ambulance.
The finish came when Cena made his way to the top of the ambulance. Ryback followed, but walked into an Attitude Adjustment, which put him through the roof of an ambulance and gave Cena the win.
Winner and STILL champion: John Cena