'Payback' would have to work pretty hard to be as bad as its immediate predecessor
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WWE Payback 2020 is a show that didn’t need to exist.

Exactly one week removed from SummerSlam 2020 – the fever pitch of WWE’s summer – there’s no need to have a full-fledged PPV show.

Granted, there are questions to be answered. Chief among them, what is Roman Reigns doing with Paul Heyman at his side? But that’s what weekly television is for.

For better or worse, though, WWE Payback 2020 exists. Did the action and storytelling make it worthwhile?

Let’s dive in and find out.

Apollo Crews put the US title on the line against Bobby Lashley at 'WWE Payback'

United States Championship Match – Apollo Crews Vs. Bobby Lashley (W/ MVP & Shelton Benjamin)

So this is, what? The seventh, eighth time they’ve tried to have this match? Here’s hoping the 342nd time is the charm for WWE Payback 2020.

Also, props to the graphics department for using the OLD BELT in the prematch graphic.

Lashley locks Crews up in the corner to start, transitioning into a couple of belly to back suplexes. Crews comes back with a side headlock only to take a shoulder tackle. The Almighty does some trash talking, but Crews comes back with a dropkick only for Lashley to take him right back down. Back to the corner, and Lashley keeps working over Crews.

Crews hits another dropkick and shoulder tackles Lashley out of the ring before hitting a moonsault onto the floor. Back inside, Lashley hits a fallaway slam, draping Crews over the ropes. Crews falls to the floor below. Lashley follows and runs Crews into the post.

Inside, Lashley goes for a pin, but Crews kicks out. Lashley returns to the side headlock before hitting another fallaway slam. The Almighty hits a shoulder tackle on Crews in the corner. He goes for a suplex, but Crews fights out with an enziguri. The challenger lifts Crews and hits the Dominator, but Crews kicks out at two. He covers again, and Crews kicks out again.

Lashley goes for a spear, but Crews dodges. Crews hits another enziguri and hits a crossbody splash off the top. Both guys are down. The champion hits some shoulder tackles and clubbing blows in the corner before hitting a Stinger splash. He goes for a powerbomb, but Lashley escapes only to get hit with a spinebuster. Crews hits the standing moonsault, but it only gets two.

The champion lifts Lashley, but Lashley goes for the full nelson. Crews evades and hits a German suplex, but it doesn’t phase Lashley. The champion hits another German and heads to the top. He hits a frog splash on Lashley, but it only gets two.

Crews charges Lashley in the corner, but Lashley fights back with a back elbow. The champion charges again, but Lashley plants him with a chokeslam. Lashley hooks on the Full Lashley to get the win and the title.

This was good for what it was, and a solid opener for WWE Payback 2020. But I wish WWE would make up their minds – do they want to go all the way with Crews or not?

After the match, Crews goes full sore loser and tries to beat down the Hurt Business. Because that’s how you build a babyface. Have him lose fair-and-square and still attack his opponent. WWE, do you even pro wrestling?

Winner (And NEW Champion):  Bobby Lashley

Match Rating:  ** 1/2

Big E battled Sheamus at 'WWE Payback'

Big E Vs. Sheamus

Okay, well, here’s something I don’t care about for WWE Payback 2020. Having said that, if they’re gonna make a Big E singles run, you gotta start somewhere.

A couple of lockups result in a stalemate. Because LARGE MEAT MEN! Big E goes for a waist lock, but Sheamus reverses, only for Big E to reverse in kind. Sheamus slows it down with a side headlock, but Big E breaks free and hits a high elbow. He goes in for the kill, but Sheamus tosses him between the ropes. Big E lands on his feet and gets back to the apron, but Sheamus immediately goes for the fella forearms.

Cringey spot, as Big E tries to hit a splash on Sheamus on the apron. But Sheamus dodges, and Big E just collides with the apron. Yeesh. Back inside, Sheamus hits a half-atomic drop. Sheamus lays in the stomps and tries to weaken Big E’s legs. Big E gets free, but Sheamus immediately hits the Irish Curse for two.

Sheamus locks in a half crab, and this is remarkably boring for a PPV match. Do better, WWE Payback 2020!

Big E reverses and escapes the hold with a stiff kick to the jaw. But Sheamus kicks him right back down. The Celtic Warrior goes up top and goes for an elbow, but Big E catches him with a belly-to-belly throw. Big E gets another, followed by a Rock Bottom for two. He goes for a spear, but Sheamus gets a knee up. Sheamus hits a shoulder tackle over the top rope from the apron that has no bearing on anything.

The New Day’s big man gets an advantage, but wastes time dancing. Sheamus hits an Alabama slam for two. Because that’s how you build someone you want to be a singles star. Make him look like an idiot.

Sheamus hooks another half crab, but Big E makes it to the ropes. Cole yammers about whether or not the damage has been done to the knee. Because apparently he’s never seen a pro wrestling match before. Sheamus continues the attack and charges Big E, but he gets backdropped to the floor. Big E spears Sheamus through the ropes and to the floor.

Big E throws Sheamus back inside and goes for the Big Ending, but Sheamus reverses into a heel hook. After a couple punches, Big E breaks out but walks into a Brogue Kick, but it only gets two. Both guys are down. Sheamus calls for another Brogue Kick, but Big E catches him and hits a powerbomb into the Big Ending for the win.

It picked up near the end, but this was a slog of a match at WWE Payback 2020. Big win for Big E. We’ll see if WWE actually follows through. (Spoiler: They won’t)

Winner:  Big E

Match Rating:  ** 1/4

Matt Riddle sought to dethrone King Corbin at 'WWE Payback'

Matt Riddle Vs. King Corbin

Remember when they debuted Matt Riddle in a program against AJ Styles? Yeah, WWE would prefer you didn’t.

Corbin clotheslines Riddle as he’s kicking off the flip-flops. Credit where it’s due, why has no one tried that? The bell rings, and the match proper begins with Corbin stomping Riddle in the corner at WWE Payback 2020.

King Corbin takes the fight outside and slams him into the announce table a couple times. Back inside, Corbin goes for a pin but only gets two. The beating continues. Despite there being literal indie wrestling footage on the WWE Network, Graves is still pretending Riddle came straight from MMA to WWE. Riddle fights back and hooks in a sleeper.

Corbin escapes with a backdrop, but Riddle locks it right back in. But the King escapes again and hurls Riddle into the corner. Big clothesline from Corbin only gets a two-count. The King traps Riddle in the corner and continues the beatdown. Riddle tries to fight back, but Corbin scores with a side slam for two.

The King wastes time taunting the TV screens, and Riddle attacks only to eat a high back elbow for two. Corbin goes for a half crab, but Riddle fights him off and catches him with a kick to the side of the head. The King spills to the outside. Riddle follows, but Corbin drives him into the apron before throwing him back inside. The Bro scores with another kick and hits some forearms in the corner.

Riddle hits a running knee, but it only gets a two-count. A slugfest ensues, and both guys are down. Corbin places Riddle on the top. Riddle leap-frogs Corbin, but he gets Deep Sixed for two. The Original Bro tries to cinch in a triangle, but Corbin fights out only to eat a kick followed by the Floaty Bro, and Riddle picks up the win.

Aside from a few pacing issues, this was a decent WWE Payback 2020 match. The dead space made sense, and it never became horribly boring.

Winner:  Matt Riddle

Match Rating:  ***

Bayley and Sasha Banks put their WWE Women's Tag Team Championships on the line against Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler at 'WWE Payback.'

Women’s Tag Team Championship Match – Bayley & Sasha Banks (C) Vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax

Remember when Shayna Baszler was treated seriously enough that I thought she might win the Royal Rumble? Yeah, WWE would prefer you didn’t.

Baszler and Jax argue over who gets to start. We get Banks and Baszler at the start, and Banks hits a dropkick early. But Baszler gets Banks tied up in the corner. Banks escapes and tries to hook in an abdominal stretch, but Baszler reverses. The Queen of Spades stomps at Banks, and Bayley tags in. Bayley goes for a waistlock, but gets suplexed for her troubles.

A hammerlock from Baszler keeps Bayley at bay. Bayley throws Baszler into Jax on the apron, and Jax collides knee-first with the announce desk. The champs double-team Baszler in their corner. Banks gets a quick two-count before locking in an abdominal stretch. Sasha gets two-of-three amigos. Bayley tags in, and they hit a double suplex on Baszler.

Bayley hits a clothesline, but Jax throws Banks into the ring to break up the pin. The champs try to attack Jax on the outside, and that goes about as well as you’d expect. Jax chucks Banks into the barricade a couple of times. Okay, business has picked up at WWE Payback 2020. Jax gets the hot tag and destroys Bayley.

The champs sucker Baszler to draw the referee’s attention, and Bayley knees Jax in the face. They isolate Jax in the corner, and Banks tags in with double knees followed by a bronco buster. Banks hammers away at Jax on the mat before hitting a dropkick. Bayley tags back in, and they double-team Jax. She attacks Jax’s knees on the apron.

Bayley comes off the ropes, but Jax catches her and slams her down. She lifts Bayley again, but Banks drags her off. Jax hits a Samoan drop on Bayley. She goes for the legdrop, but Bayley grabs the leg and tries to cinch in a kneebar. Jax drags Bayley across the ring and makes the tag to Baszler.

Baszler comes in and makes with the strikes on Bayley. She hits a running knee on Bayley in the corner into an inverted gutwrench suplex for two. Banks tags back in, and Baszler gives her a gutwrench suplex. Jax tags back in and splashes both champs in the corner. She goes for a powerbomb on Banks, but Banks counters with a facebuster.

Bayley tags in and goes up top, but Banks makes a blind tag. She hits the Macho Man elbow, followed by a frog splash from Banks. But Jax kicks out. That was a cool spot. A sliding knee from Banks gets a two-count. Bayley tags in again, and they go for a double-suplex. But Jax fights out. Baszler makes a blind tag, and she puts the clutch on Bayley.

Banks goes for the save, but Baszler cinches in a Mutalock. Bayley tries to assist, and she gets clutched again. Banks tries to break the hold, but Baszler uses Banks’s arm for extra leverage, and Bayley taps out.

That match was far better than it had any right to be. It makes for a nice wrinkle in the Bayley-Banks meltdown, and it’s cool to see Baszler with a championship. Even if it’s, well, kinda worthless. Good showing at WWE Payback 2020.

Winners (And NEW Champions):  Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax

Match Rating:  *** 1/2

Keith Lee battled Randy Orton at 'WWE Payback'

Keith Lee Vs. Randy Orton

If I’m gonna turn on WWE Payback 2020, it’ll be this match. A week ago, Keith Lee was the NXT Champion. Now there is no NXT Champion. So this better end up being worth it.

Oh man, Keith Lee’s new music is awful.

Orton cinches in a side headlock to start, but Lee gets leverage around Orton’s waist. The Viper goes for a shoulder tackle, but Lee doesn’t budge. Lee leapfrogs a charging Orton and scores with a crossbody. Orton ducks to the outside and sells it like he’s seen a ghost. Like him or not, Orton’s a pro.

The Viper insists that Lee show him respect. So he chops Lee three times. I’m not sure a chop at a tree trunk like Lee is gonna give the desired result.

Lee caves in Orton’s chest and clubs the hell out of him in the corner. He charges Orton in the corner, but Orton dodges and Lee goes shoulder-first into the post. On the outside, Orton slams Lee onto the announce table.

The Limitless One breaks the count, but Orton attacks the legs back inside. Orton goes for a cover, but Lee kicks out. Back to the headlock, but Lee wills himself to his feet and elbows his way out of the hold. Lee launches Orton out of the ring with the shoulder tackle. Like, remember what he does to Adam Cole in that GIF? That. He did that.

On the outside, Lee drops Orton onto the announce table. He throws Orton back inside, but Orton hits the draping DDT on Lee’s way back in. Orton signals for the RKO (dude, you never hit it when you call for it). He goes for the RKO, but Keith Lee hits the Spirit Bomb to beat Orton.

Not the mat classic, but it wasn’t supposed to be. It was well-paced, and it had the finish it needed to have. Keith Lee could own this company, and this is hopefully just the first step.

Winner:  Keith Lee

Match Rating:  ** 3/4

Dominik and Rey Mysterio took on Seth Rollins and Murphy at 'WWE Payback'

Rey Mysterio & Dominic Mysterio Vs. Seth Rollins & Murphy

Again. Why wasn’t this a match on the way to SummerSlam 2020?

And also again. Can we be done with Rollins vs. the Mysterios after this?

The Mysterios attack right out of the gate, and Dominik hits an early 6-1-9 on Murphy. Murphy wants to get at Dominik, but Rollins tells him to slow his roll.

Rollins kicks Dominik in the gut a couple times, but Dominik scores with a big kick to the face followed by an armdrag off the top rope. Dominik just avoided falling off the rope and dying. Murphy tags back in and Dominik hits another armdrag into a dropkick. He tags Rey in, and they double-team Murphy.

Dominik hits a Russian legsweep, and Rey hits a dropkick. It only gets two. Rey wants Rollins, and the Messiah tags in. And Rey goes berserk, but Rollins keeps him at bay with gut strikes. He charges Rey in the corner, but Rey hits a running rana for two. Rollins hits a gutbuster to break up the momentum.He goes for another one, but Rey fights him off, and Murphy makes a blind tag.

Rollins slides Rey out of the ring, and he lands on Murphy’s extended knees. That was cool. Back inside, Murphy gets a two-count on Rey. Rollins comes back in, and they double-team Rey. The heels keep Rey isolated in the corner. Murphy tags in, and Rollins whips Murphy shoulder-first into Rey.

Frequent tags from the heels, and they got for another whip, but Rey escapes and hits a facebuster on Murphy. Rey makes the hot tag to Dominik. He goes for a crossbody, but Rollins catches him and hits the Falcon Arrow for two. Murphy comes in, and puts the boots to Dominik. A snap suplex gets two for Murphy. Murphy locks in an abdominal stretch. Dominik gets in a jawbreaker, but Murphy hangs on.

Rollins comes back in and slams Dominik to the mat. Dominik tries to fight his way to the Mysterios’ corner, but Rollins chucks him out of the ring. Murphy tries to beat Dominik down, but Dominik plants him into the barricade. Rollins runs out to help, but he gets the same.

Dominik makes the hot tag to Rey. Rey hits a spinning rana followed by a top-rope moonsault for two. Rey sets up for the 6-1-9, but Rollins ducks and goes for a powerbomb. But Rey rolls through and hits a superkick for two, as Murphy runs in to break up the count. Dominik hits a tornado DDT on Murphy, but Rollins gets the sling blade on Dominik.

That allows Rey to hit a senton, but Rollins reverses into a backbreaker. Everybody’s down. Rey and Rollins slug it out on the inside while Murphy and Dominik fight on the outside. Rey hits a tope suicida on Murphy before coming back to the ring. He heads up top and goes for a frog splash, but Rollins catches in mid-air with a codebreaker followed by a superkick for two.

I retract what I said. This should have been the SummerSlam match.

Rollins has Rey set up for the curb stomp, but Rey evades and goes for a destroyer. But Rollins rolls him up, only for Dominik to break up the pin. Murphy comes in to run interference, but Dominik distracts both he and Rollins. They plant Dominik into the barricade, and Rollins turns his attention back to Rey. He chucks Rey into the barricade.

The Monday Night Messiah rolls Rey back into the ring. Rollins tags in Murphy and orders Murphy to kick Rey in the head. He has Rey in a powerbomb position, but Rey ducks out and Murphy kicks Rollins. Rey tags in Dominik, who slides Rey into Rollins on the outside, hitting a destroyer. Dominik hits the 6-1-9 followed by the frog splash for the pin and the win.

That was an excellent match at WWE Payback 2020. A satisfying end to this whole story, albeit a month late. Well, two months late. I repeat. Let’s please, please, please be done with this.

Winners:  The Mysterios

Match Rating:  ****

The returning Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman challenged the Fiend for the Universal Championship at 'WWE Payback'

Universal Championship Match – The Fiend (C) Vs. Braun Strowman Vs. Roman Reigns (W/ Paul Heyman)

WWE knows this match needs to be short, right? I mean, regardless of the winner, this WWE Payback 2020 main event needs to be brief. They understand that, don’t they? Don’t they? They don’t, do they?

Braun attacks the Fiend before the bell. And Reigns hasn’t even made it out yet. Ugh, they’re gonna decide that Reigns never signed the contract, aren’t they?

The Fiend hits Sister Abigail, and Braun kicks out. Braun rolls to the outside for a breather. Fiend follows, and they brawl on the outside. The champ Rock Bottoms Braun through the announce table, and for some reason we’re cutting to reaction shots of Alexa Bliss. I have no idea what they’re doing. And neither do they.

For some reason, the Fiend’s mallet is under the ring. He stumbles toward Braun, so Braun throws the announcers’ chair at him. And Graves is only just now mentioning that Reigns isn’t out yet. Braun slams the Fiend onto the steps and picks up the mallet. But the Fiend kicks him from below and tosses his challenger at the barricade.

The Fiend has the mallet again, and he bashes Braun in the chest with it. This is dumb.

Fiend gets the necksnap on the outside and hits Braun in the shoulder with the ring steps. He drags Braun up the ramp and hits another necksnap. They start literally going through the moves of the SummerSlam match, as Braun throws the Fiend into the video wall. The Fiend goes for Sister Abigail, but Braun escapes and shoulder tackles the Fiend off the stage. Both guys are down.

Braun drags the Fiend back to the ring. He heads to the top, but the Fiend crotches him. Fiend hits a superplex, and the ring collapses, and now Reigns comes out with a chair in hand. Heyman hands him the contract, and Reigns signs it. That’s dumb.

Reigns covers the Fiend, who immediately kicks out. Fiend kicks out again, so Reigns covers Braun. Who kicks out. Okay, so is he an opportunist or is he a weak idiot?

Now Reigns comes back in and lays Braun out with a chair. And Braun kicks out. This company does not know what it’s doing. His first night back as the unstoppable monster with the evil manager, and he’s an idiot.

Fiend gets the Mandible Claw, but Reigns escapes with a Greco Roman nutshot. Reigns spears Braun to win the championship.

I really didn’t think WWE Payback 2020 could produce a more counterproductive main event than SummerSlam. Never underestimate WWE’s ability to screw things up in new and innovative ways.

Winner (And NEW Champion):  Roman Reigns

Match Rating:  *

The Breakdown

Well, it was better than SummerSlam. But most things are.

WWE Payback 2020 was a solid enough show. But a solid PPV shouldn’t equate to a sub-par AEW: Dynamite. And I don’t mean to shill for AEW or to make unfair comparisons.

But that’s what this show felt like. A decent couple hours of pro wrestling TV. Not a PPV-level event.

WWE Payback 2020 brought us closer to Keith Lee as a legit star, and that – I hope – will be its ultimate legacy. For now? It was an okay enough show.

All images courtesy of WWE.

'WWE Payback 2020'

6.3

In-Ring Action

6.5/10

Booking

6.5/10

Storytelling

5.5/10

Entertainment Value

6.7/10

Pros

  • Keith Lee: Bask in his f'n glory
  • Mysterios vs Messiahs was great, even if the finish was too late
  • I didn't expect Baszler and Jax to be that good as a team

Cons

  • Way to make Reigns look like an idiot.
  • Crews booked to look like a joke
  • I don't know where they're going with the Universal Championship picture, and neither do they.
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