WWE makes its way back to the Allstate Arena in Chicago for Payback. WWE has done a fantastic job of making every match feel important...well, except for the US Title match. The excitement for Payback, in my opinion, comes from the effort WWE has put into the superb storytelling leading into the event...well, except for the whole who will take over RAW story.
Before I get into my Payback predictions, there is that added hook of who Vince McMahon will choose to run RAW going forward. RAW has felt fresher than it has in years since WrestleMania. I contribute that to the absence of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The focus has been on the wrestlers and the stories, which has made for a better paced, smoother running show.
As to whom will lead RAW after tonight, that depends. If Shane is here for the foreseeable future, then my pick is Shane. Shane gets control of RAW and the build begins to a match at SummerSlam against a returning Triple H. The stipulation for the match is if Hunter wins, RAW goes back to the Authority, if Shane wins, then it's the end of the Authority. By next year's WrestleMania WWE figures out a way to turn a returning Triple H face.
Onto the match predictions.
Roman Reigns vs. A.J. Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The peripheral storyline of Style's relationship with Gallows and Anderson, and the will he, won't he debut of Finn Balor is far more appealing than the actual match. And, that's exactly what WWE wants. They want to put the attention on anything but the fact that Reigns is going to be unmercifully booed out of the building in Chicago.
I think A.J. Styles can at least get a good, but not great match out of Reigns. While ultimately Reigns will get the win, I hope WWE gives Styles the majority of offense and keeps him strong in defeat. In the end I see Gallows and Anderson coming out and making it look like they're helping Styles win the match, but they actually cost him the title "by accident." This keeps the mystery going for one more night where on RAW we'll finally see the story play out with the debut of Finn Balor leading Gallows and Anderson in a faction yet to be named.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Charlotte (with Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (with Bret Hart) for the WWE Women's Championship.
While I fully expect both women to bring it and try to steal the show, the match result itself isn't a mystery. I'm going to really enjoy the match because Charlotte and Natalya work so well together, but I don't expect a title change, nor do I expect much from Ric Flair and Bret Hart.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens.
This is the match I'm most looking forward to. The video package from RAW really drove home the disdain they have for each other. Regardless of what happens here, this isn't the last time we see these two go at it. This is a feud that can be revisited many times down the line without fear of it getting stale. WWE has done an effective job of portraying Zayn as the underdog so a loss here won't hurt him. But, I don't see him losing here. Sami Zayn gets a fluky win in some fashion; afterwards Owens destroys him setting up Zayn’s revenge down the line.
Winner: Sami Zayn
The Miz vs. Cesaro for the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Let me just say I'm a fan of the Miz. The addition of Maryse has taken his act to the next level. As far as Cesaro, there's something that's just not clicking with me and his new James Bond type character. I'm a big fan of Cesaro, but I prefer the pre-injury character. This will be a really good match if they're given the time as both men can go. Cesaro will get the bulk of the offense and look dominant, only to have Miz win with help from Maryse. The feud will continue to Extreme Rules.
Winner: The Miz
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho.
Chris Jericho is arguably putting in the best work of his career. He's the most entertaining wrestler on the roster right now and is the perfect bridge from the veterans to the new call-ups. The build leading to this match has been effective in making us forget the loss Dean Ambrose took against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Ambrose remains to be Teflon, as losses don't seem to hurt him. This too should be a good match. Jericho seems to like wrestling the same guy over the course of a few shows, so if he's staying with WWE longer I think he goes over here and we see this match again at Extreme Rules.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin.
If this isn't a squash I'll be disappointed.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudevillians in a No. 1 Contenders Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
I love the added attention the tag team division is getting from WWE. Enzo & Cass have added a much needed injection of energy. The Vaudevillians have also been a guilty pleasure. Enzo & Cass are so ridiculously over I don't think they need the belts...yet. On the other hand, the Vaudevillians can use the rub the belts would give them. I see the Vaudevillians coming out on top for two reasons: 1. It's too soon to put Enzo & Cass against New Day; in fact, SummerSlam may even be too soon. 2. There's still unfinished business and money to be made in a full build to a Dudley Boys vs. Enzo & Cass match. Therefore, the Dudley's interfere costing Enzo & Cass a shot at the tag team titles.
Winner: the Vaudevillians
Kalisto vs. Ryback for the WWE U.S Championship.
It's a shame that WWE treats the US Title with such little regard. Kalisto has the talent to be a good underdog champion if only WWE would tell that story. If they only had one more hour…
Enjoy the show!
The Fighting Champion
Blogging about mixed martial arts, sports betting and providing winning sports picks.