The SmarK Rant for WWE Payback 2020 – 08.30.20
Live from the THUNDERDOME in Orlando FL
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Corey Graves and the usual cast of lovable scamps.
US title: Apollo Crews v. Bobbly Lashley
I really kinda hate the new US title, which looks like a toy and seems really overdone. It feels like it work better for the Intercontinental title and has nothing to do with the United States theme. Plus they haven’t even changed the on-screen graphic to the new design! Lashley takes Apollo down with a waistlock and rides him on the mat. Cruise fights back with a dropkick and elbows Lashley to the floor, then follows with a moonsault off the apron. Back in, Lashley necks Cruz on the top rope to put him on the floor and then runs him into the post to take over, which gets two. We hit the chinlock and he goes for a suplex, but Croos escapes and hits an enzuigiri. Bobby puts him down with a Dominator for two, but charges and lands on the floor, allowing Apollo to make the comeback. Corner splash and spinebuster set up the standing moonsault for two, with a nice Wakandan tribute. He hits a pair of german suplexes and goes up with a frog splash for two, but Lashley chokeslams him and puts him away with the full nelson at 9:27 to win the title. Apollo is just the latest in a long line of loser babyfaces in WWE. Match was OK but passionless, and didn’t have any particular storyline to it. **
Meanwhile, we learn that Roman Reigns is a Paul Heyman guy on Smackdown, and apparently he hasn’t actually signed the contract for the main event of the show yet.
Meanwhile, JBL offers Keith Lee some investment advice and tells him not to feel bad about losing tonight.
Big E v. Sheamus
Didn’t we just see this match on Smackdown? Why would you want to burn out the fake crowd? As always, Michael Cole reminds us that this is important because both guys are trying to build momentum and perhaps secure a title opportunity of some sort down the road. Well that really puts things into perspective. Sheamus tries a takedown and gets overpowered as a result, so he goes with a headlock instead and E puts him down with a back elbow. They fight to the apron and Sheamus beats on him with the forearms and then dodges a splash out there. Sheamus goes to work on the knee. It’s kind of a serious indictment on the product when Cole is out there listing all the dozens of titles that the two guys have held between them, and they’re just two fellas out there having an undercard tussle, pal. Sheamus beats on the knee for two and goes to a half crab, but E kicks his way out of it and Sheamus returns his own boot to the face. E comes back with suplexes and a Rock Bottom for two. Belly to belly follows, but Sheamus puts him down with an Alabama Slam for two. Back to a leglock, but E makes the ropes, so Sheamus chokes him out there, but E backdrops him to the floor and follows with his spear to the floor. Back in, Sheamus takes him down with a heel hook, but E grabs the beard to break, and Sheamus puts him down with a knee for two. Big E counters the Brogue Kick with a powerbomb and finishes with the Big Ending at 12:20. Even the fake crowd noise isn’t particularly excited by that. This was a really dull match with not much going on. **1/4
Meanwhile, yet another interchangeable robo-interviewer has dumb questions for Matt Riddle.
Meanwhile, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler are WACKY TAG TEAM PARTNERS WHO HATE EACH OTHER.
King Corbin v. Matt Riddle
Corbin attacks while Riddle is flipping the flip-flops, which really harshes his buzz. Corbin tosses him and pounds away with forearms, then continues pounding him with forearms in the ring and goes to a chinlock. Riddle fights out, but Corbin throws more forearms. Riddle jumps into a kimura attempt, but Corbin throws him down, so Riddle jumps on him with a sleeper. Corbin breaks free and hits the Dine & Dash clothesline for two. True story: I was actually at Denny’s for lunch the other guy and some piece of shit customers actually did that! The dine & dash, not running around the ringpost and clotheslining someone. Corbin goes to a neck vice and Riddle fights out of that, so Corbin gets more HEAT on him and goes to work again. Riddle ducks a second Dine & Dash and puts him down with a high kick and makes [insert generic WWE babyface comeback] for two. Corbin gets the Deep Fryer Six for two, but Riddle tries a triangle and then hits the Bro 2 Sleep and moonsault to finish at 11:12. This is apparently a huge upset and the win of Riddle’s career, which they say with a serious tone. You really have to work at it to make Matt Riddle this dull, but they had a goal and accomplished it! *1/2 But at least the locker room has been put on notice, and that’s the important thing.
Meanwhile, Riddle is ready to move on, but Corbin attacks him and THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE.
Women’s tag team title: Bayley & Sasha Banks v. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
Sasha trades kicks with Shayna to start, but Shayna puts the boots to her in the corner and throws her around. Over to Bayley, and Shayna tries for a hammerlock, but Bayley knocks Nia Jax off the apron to break free. Sasha comes in with the rolling suplexes and Bayley helps with a double suplex as they nearly drop Shayna on her head on the way down somehow. Nia pulls them out to save Shayna and beats on Sasha outside, then comes in and runs wild on Bayley with a splash and elbow for two. Sasha clips the knee and the champs go to work in the corner, but Jax gets a half-assed slam on Bayley and then tries a legdrop, but Bayley grabs the leg on the way down. Jax just ignores her and drags her across the ring and makes a hot (?) tag to Baszler, who gets some stuff on Bayley while the dull roar of the fake crowd drones on. Man, whatever they were doing a Summerslam was working WAY better than this. Nia gets a double splash in the corner, but Sasha apparently also idolizes Kidman in addition to Eddie Guerrero and she reverses a powerbomb. Bayley drops the flying elbow on Nia and Sasha adds a frog splash, but that only gets two. Shayna gets a blind tag while the champs double-team Jax and puts Bayley in the choke while using Banks’ arm for extra leverage to win the titles at 10:21. This was fucking awful, a tedious mess with no flow to it whatsoever. Finish was clever, I guess. ¼* What a complete waste of Banks & Bayley, who had been building up actual momentum with the titles.
Keith Lee v. Randy Orton
Lee gets the crossbody right away and chases Orton to the floor, but Randy comes back in and throws chops. Lee tries a charge and hits the post, allowing Randy to take over with the chinlock. Lee fights back with the Pounce to put him on the floor and follows with a suplex onto the table. Back in with the draping DDT and he tries the RKO, but Lee reverses to the Spirit Bomb for the surprise win at 6:44. Totally unimpressive for Lee, as he sold and sold and then got a fluke win, showing nothing of why he was supposed to be such a big deal. *1/2
Seth Rollins & Murphy v. Rey & Dominik Mysterio
The Mysterios clean house to start and Dominik takes Seth down with a springboard armdrag to put him on the floor. The heels regroup out there and it’s over to Murphy, who also gets double-teamed by the father and falsely adopted son. Seth beats on Rey in the corner, but Rey takes him down with a senton for one, only for Rollins to put him down with a gutbuster. Clever spot as Murphy lays on the floor with his knees up and Rollins slides Rey out there and onto the knees. Back in, Murphy gets two. They go to work on Rey in the corner, but he comes back with the bulldog on Murphy and makes the hot tag to Dom. But he tries a bodypress and lands in the falcon arrow for two. Buddy goes to an abdominal stretch and at this point I’m so bored with this show that I had to stop and watch Big Brother instead. And considering how incredibly dull the All Stars season has been, that’s pretty sad. They toss Dom and try to send him into the railing, but Dom runs them both into it himself and makes the hot tag to Rey. He goes up with a moonsault for two, but misses the 619 and Rollins tries a powerbomb, which Rey reverses for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and everyone hits the big moves until Seth hits Rey with a backbreaker and both guys are down. They slug it out and Rey goes up with a crossbody, but lands on Seth’s knee and the superkick gets two. Seth misses the curb stomp, but recovers with a facebuster for two as Dom makes the save. The heels toss the Mysterios around on the floor and the fake crowd noise is just awful here, a non-stop droning white noise that has nothing to do with the match. Back in, Seth orders Murphy to kick Rey in the head, but he kicks Seth in the head by mistake. Well, you know what they say about Murphy’s Law. Dom gets a 619 on Murphy and finishes with a frog splash as they finally win one of these matches at 16:00. This was mostly good? I guess? **1/2
Meanwhile, the Hurt Business leaves with the US title.
Universal title: The Fiend v. Braun Strowman v. Roman Reigns
Strowman attacks before Reigns even makes his entrance, but Fiend hits the Sister Abigail for two and then they head out, where Fiend puts him through a table with the uranage. And Alexa Bliss is doing the fake thing backstage where she has to watch a TV screen while still looking at the camera. So Fiend finds his mallet under the ring, but Strowman drops him on the stairs and goes for the hammer. Fiend wins that battle and puts him down with the hammer, then follows with the dreaded ZEUS NECK SNAP. Or is that more properly the GENERAL ZOD NECK SNAP at this point? I don’t wanna be a Snyder hater, because Man of Steel was pretty good. They continue fussin’ and feudin’ up the ramp as no one seems terribly concerned that Roman Reigns hasn’t shown up for his title match as of yet. Maybe it’s like his usual Royal Rumble strategy of napping on the floor while everyone else does the work. Strowman bodychecks him off the stage and through a HELLACIOUS crash pad below. Back to the ring as the droning white noise continues, and Braun goes up, but gets taken down with a superplex that breaks the ring. So at this point, Roman comes out and signs the contract, and gets two on the Fiend. And then he beats on Strowman with a chair and gets two from that. Fiend tries the Mandible Claw, but Reigns kicks him in the nuts to break and then spears Braun to win the title at 12:34. So now Reigns is a complete heel with no explanation who stole the title back, and who the fuck knows what’s up (or cares) about the other two at this point. Also something something Alexa Bliss I guess. Whatever. **
The main event was newsworthy and certainly the best Strowman-Wyatt match we’ve seen thus far, which admittedly is a low bar to clear. The rest of this was a complete waste of time and I still have no idea why this sub-RAW level show even needed to exist. Thumbs way down.