If there is one thing that I can say about Payback it's that I'm glad WWE is presenting us with a normal ppv that is void of any gimmicks. Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, TLC etc. all lose their appeal when they happen at a designated time each and every year. It also allows the match to determine the storyline, instead of the storyline determining the match, which is wrestling booking 101. Anyways, the card for Payback looks promising in some areas and weak in others; let's take a look at it.
Ryback vs John Cena for the WWE Championship is a match that I'm not too thrilled about. "3 Stages of Hell" is an interesting touch, something that we have not seen in the WWE in 4 years. I think it will be a very typical John Cena type match. Since Cena is the better in-ring performer (never a good sign) and the match is set up for a lot of outside the ring brawling, it should be similar to last month's match at Extreme Rules, a brawl with a few recycled spots and a limited amount of actual wrestling.
I don't think Ryback has a chance to win this match. He is too raw and has yet to prove he can be a viable WWE champion. I also think that the WWE wants to give John Cena a lengthy title reign, you don't take the WWE Championship off of The Rock only to have that guy dethroned a few months later. The first match is a Lumberjack match, which I think Cena will win fairly quickly, perhaps not cleanly as one of the lumberjacks gets involved. The tables match is destined to have Ryback win, it is the ultimate match to get a fluke victory in. Ryback pushes Cena off of the entrance ramp or a ledge or something through a table to tie it up 1-1. Cena will finish Ryback off in the ambulance match, most likely hitting an AA onto something (off the top of the ambulance through two tables would be my plan) and retain the belt.
Chris Jericho vs CM Punk is probably the most interesting match on the card, especially because we haven't seen Punk on WWE TV since he walked out back in April. Some are predicting that Punk will not show up for the ppv, but I find that hard to believe since the show is taking place in Chicago. If the WWE bait and switches the crowd that badly, they will boo the crap out of the following match (probably Cena vs Ryback).
Their feud never really fulfilled its potential last summer, mainly because Punk won every single time and the "CM Punk's family is a bunch of druggies and alcoholics" probably wasn't the greatest idea by creative. Jericho is now the babyface and Punk the heel, although that will hardly matter in Punk's hometown, so things will definitely be different. I think the match will end in a draw, perhaps a double DQ or a double countout, with Punk hitting the GTS on Jericho after the bell has rung. That will further the feud and send the crowd home happy.
Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship is a match that has been on hold for a while, and now the WWE finally gets to run with it. I can't see anyway Ziggler loses the title unless Big E turns on him. ADR hasn't done anything to deserve the WHC except get a billion undeserved title shots and Ziggler needs to move on to a feud with a better babyface. This match opens the card with Ziggler winning cleanly in under 15 minutes. Both guys are really good in-ring workers, and the Chicago crowd could really fall for Dolph so don't sleep on this one.
The Intercontinental Championship went from being a triple threat, to a singles match, back to a triple threat. I have to think that the newly inserted Curtis Axel is going to win the title. The WWE doesn't seem to care that much about Wade Barrett or The Miz, but they do care a lot about Axel and they need to start justifying all the hype for a guy who's matches almost always end in flukes and go under 5 minutes.
Kane vs Dean Ambrose is easily predictable. Nobody thinks that Kane is going to win the US Title and rightfully so. With the dissolution of his tag team with Daniel Bryan, this should set up the next step in Kane's career. For Dean Amrbose, Kane is the next step to main eventing, as Kofi Kingston was the first rung on the ladder, a clean win over Kane will really get the ball rolling for Ambrose.
The tag team title match between Rollins and Reigns vs Orton and Bryan can only end in one way: Bryan or Orton turns on the other. Ideally Orton should turn heel (where he is at his best) and Bryan should turn full-fledged face (where he is at his best). The WWE has botched these moves before, but Orton has grown stale as a face and Bryan is most likely the most over person in wrestling right now, it just makes sense to have them to make that turn. Orton and Bryan are capable of having some great matches, and Rollins Reigns can get another big win over two former world champions. This seems like a no-brainer, but the WWE has screwed stuff like this up before, which will always make it interesting.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the WWE put some actual effort into a diva's storyline. With AJ trolling Kaitlyn, their feud as reached a tipping point which will finally amount to a title match between the champion Kaitlyn and the challenger AJ Lee. I really think that AJ has to win this match. AJ is only woman the WWE has that makes a significant difference and with her boyfriend has the World Champion, it makes a great deal of sense to crown her as the Diva's champion. Kaitlyn is more or less expendable, if the WWE wanted to book Alicia Fox, Natayla, one of the Bellas, etc. the same way as Kaitlyn they would be just as relevant as she is. AJ Lee is really indispensable, making her the most valuable Diva in the WWE and the rightful champion.
The preshow match between Sheamus and Sandow is just something that the WWE is doing to keep Sheamus relevant while they try to come up with his next move. It is cool to see Sandow getting a lot of attention because he is a great performer, but this will be a quick match ending in a brogue kick and a resounding victory for Sheamus.
Overall I like the card a lot more than I did for Extreme Rules. There are some weak spots on the card and I think that the main event is really lacking, but the strong undercard with Punk vs Jericho, Ziggler and The Shield should be enough to carry this ppv into the good graces of most fans.