Just one week after SummerSlam, WWE is delivering a stacked card for it's sixth Payback event. Every wrestling fan wondered how WWE could offer another major Sunday event just one week after SummerSlam, leaving WWE six days to make a card that would get people invested. Our masked faces really need a breath of fresh air and WWE delivered: Roman Reigns has returned from his COVID exile as a heel with Paul Heyman as his manager to reclaim the Universal Championship he forfeited because of Leukemia and he's facing two of his best rivals in Bray Wyatt & Braun Strowman. That main event alone is appointment television for wrestling fans. The rest of the card is full of fresh feuds. On the surface, it appears that WWE is adjusting to the fans' disappointment with its product over the summer.
After a three year hiatus, WWE Payback returns tonight, August 30, 2020 at 7:00 PM ET (Preshow at 6:00 PM ET) broadcast from inside the WWE Thunderdome at The Amway Center in Orlando Florida. There are seven matches on the card with three titles on the line. Below is a preview of each match on the card and predictions for each match based on recent booking. In the comments below, please leave your predictions for the card and what you think about these changes.
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP (NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH)
Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman vs. Braun Strowman
On October 22nd, 2018, the WWE Universe was thrown off balance when Roman Reigns forfeited the Universal Championship to battle his Leukemia diagnosis. Reigns was ready to finally reclaim his championship from Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 but had to pull out of the event due to his newborn twins being vulnerable to COVID19. Reigns has only been heard from through the occasional social media post but his return sent shockwaves through the wrestling world and the reveal of Paul Heyman as his manager on Friday's SmackDown raised the starpower even higher. These two changes will make every Roman Reigns feud feel new again.
Bray Wyatt thoroughly conquered Braun Strowman at SummerSlam leading Strowman to change his gear and squash Drew Gulak. Strowman's direction is unclear right now, but he could really use Roman Reigns to get him back in a groove. Roman gave Braun some of his best matches and the chemistry between the two is clear. Bray Wyatt's chemistry with Roman Reigns is on another level. Bray Wyatt & Roman Reigns have always worked well against and with one another. The two have not faced one another since early 2018 and fans are ready for Wyatt & Reigns to clash once again.
These three have worked so many matches together in various combinations over the years, but this match has a fresh coat of paint on it with Wyatt working as "The Fiend" and the wonder about what Roman Reigns will be like working as a heel with Paul Heyman on the outside. Strowman wasn't able to step up in the role of Universal Champion on SmackDown this past summer and that may have happened because WWE couldn't make the adjustment from Reigns to Strowman during Reigns' absence and not so much the fault of Braun Strowman. It makes the most sense for Reigns to win here and have The Fiend chase him for the title on SmackDown for the next couple of months with Paul Heyman in the mix.
This match is all about best friends with cracks in their friendship taking on an odd couple with nothing to lose. Bayley cost Sasha her RAW Women's Championship while Sasha helped Bayley keep her SmackDown Women's Championship earlier in the night. Bayley has been on a singles losing streak and is more vulnerable than ever. These two have been so absolutely fantastic for WWE that the company is giving Sasha & Bayley the run that they envisioned when they pitched the idea of the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship. Nia & Shayna are two of the most fearsome women in the division and could work like a female version "Powers Of Pain". Baszler & Jax both have been featured on Shane McMahon's RAW Underground, so it seems WWE has some plans for the pair.
If it weren't for the growing divide in Bayley & Sasha's friendship, the Golden Role Models would easily defeat Jax & Baszler. This match will be close but the fractures in Bayley & Sasha's friendship will lead to their undoing.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler via pinfall
WWE US CHAMPIONSHIP
Apollo Crews (c) vs. Bobby Lashley
Apollo Crews has shown another layer to his persona this summer and Lashley had one of the best matches of his career against Drew McIntyre this summer. Lashley has been dominant in his appearances on Shane McMahon's RAW Underground. Lashley & his friends in The Hurt Business just can't leave Apollo Crews alone. It's been reported that Vince McMahon wanted Monday's RAW Underground re-edited to feature Lashley more. Hopefully Apollo gets more opportunities in other areas, but it looks like his US Championship reign is coming to a close.
Bobby Lashley via pinfall
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton
After dropping the NXT title to Karrion Kross, Keith Lee made his RAW debut to challenge Randy Orton in defense of Drew McIntyre. Lee dominated the match early until Orton was able to throw Lee's shoulder into the ringpost. Orton was tossed around more than he's been in a very long time. Although the match was short, it was very fun to see Randy Orton in a match with a wrestler as athletic and as big as Keith Lee. We need more Keith Lee in our lives and we're going to get it. A loss to Lee here isn't going to hurt Randy Orton one bit. We're witnessing Orton in the greatest form of his career and he's in a groove. This match will be a blast to watch. Drew McIntyre interfered in their RAW match and likely will interfere in this one too. Hopefully it doesn't undercut the magnificence of Keith Lee, who delivered in his short opportunities against Brock Lesnar & Roman Reigns. Bask in his glory.
Dominik got one of the worst beatings in WWE history from Rollins, Murphy, and a kendo stick to set up his in-ring debut. Dominik asked his father to not get involved in his match which made it impossible for the young Mysterio to defeat the most decorated WWE Superstar over the past five years. Rollins & Murphy should defeat the Mysterios with ease. Domink just isn't at the level to compete against Rollins & Murphy yet, even with his father tagging with him. Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio is already being advertised for RAW the night following Payback, regardless of the previous night's outcome. This suggests that Rey and Dominik can take the loss at Payback but save face by having Rey pick up a win on RAW with Dominik's help. Don't forget that RETRIBUTION interfered in the tag match between these two teams on RAW this past week. After not appearing on SummerSlam, RETRIBUTION will likely make their presence known at Payback.
Rollins & Murphy via pinfall
Matt Riddle vs. "King" Baron Corbin
Since Matt Riddle arrived to SmackDown, King Corbin has felt extremely threatened. Corbin has even recruited Chad "Shorty G" Gable to soften Riddle up before Payback. Corbin is disgusted by Matt Riddle inside and out and he's determined to prevent him from becoming the future face of SmackDown.
One of Corbin's best matches is against Jack Swagger, look to Corbin to try to replicate the success he had with Swagger in this match with Riddle. Riddle has worked with bigger men before and has amazing chemistry with Keith Lee, but Corbin presents a unique challenge. If Riddle can give Corbin an excellent match, expect Riddle to get the rocket strapped to him. Riddle absolutely has to win this and he will.
Matt Riddle via pinfall
Big E vs. Sheamus
Big E is on a hot streak of getting the most meaningful singles wins since his Intercontinental Championship run in 2013-14. He's defeated The Miz, John Morrison, and Sheamus over the past month and he's looking to end his feud with Sheamus and move on to his next challenge. Big E had some contentious exchanges with The Miz on both of the new episodes of the revived "Talking Smack". The Miz kept accusing E of not being serious enough to become WWE Champion and Big E did not appreciate The Miz's unsolicited career advice. After delivering a fiery promo about why will not change for anybody, Big E was informed by The Miz that he will face Sheamus at Payback.
Sheamus matches are as serious as they get. Sheamus' clubbing blows are brutal to anyone on the receiving end. Big E mentioned on Talking Smack that he's managed to cut 13lbs over the summer, so the energy and athleticism we're seeing from him is no accident. Big E is more focussed now than ever before and his conviction is stronger than ever. Sheamus is going to lose again to Big E here and it will be definitive.
Big E via pinfall