Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage
It might be called Payback, but this year’s event doesn’t feature a single rematch from WrestleMania 32. That little oddity, the appearance of new stars and different matches as well as the rest of the build up is the focus of this latest Sunday Sermon.
Craig: Gah, I hate these annual set in stone ppvs as their names have literally no meaning. Payback for what?
As I write, the night after Raw, there are six matches announced. We have the first match between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles, Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens, The Miz taking on Cesaro, the winners of the tag tournament taking on New Day, Charlotte vs. Natalya and Dean Ambrose versus Chris Jericho.
Don’t get me wrong, on paper that’s not too bad in places but still a lot of issues. Is it really beneficial for Ambrose to be stuck in a programme with Jericho? They’ll have good marches but that’s it. I don’t see it really suggests the WWE have anything longer term for him. Also, now Ambrose has a talk show segment? For me, that just feels like the least Ambrose thing possible…
Still, the build to AJ Styles and Reigns is good as we’re left wondering if Gallows and Anderson are aligned with Styles or not or if it is just a way to bring in Finn Balor. That said, isn’t all that overshadowing the champ and is that even a bad thing?
Jamie: Here’s my two cents; I haven’t seen this week’s Raw and have no intention of catching it. I have seen the current Payback card, and have equally little intention of watching that too. Okay, AJ Styles is in the main event fighting for the title. That’s cool, but it makes no sense. He lost at Wrestlemania to Chris Jericho, but now he’s a title contender? Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see Styles in this position but it doesn’t make sense so I’m not interested. I don’t give him a chance in hell of winning the title either.
The card for Payback looks thrown together based on who on the roster is fit and healthy, but so did Wrestlemania so at least there’s some consistency…
Craig: Sometimes I hate when you sit on the fence…
Could you not argue that there’s something fresh about the Payback card? We’ve long criticised the tag team division but now, due to a match change, will have two teams battling out that are making their ppv debuts…
Brian: I love what they are doing…fresh faces and new stars are going to be born at Payback. The tag team division is finally getting a much needed boost with actual tag teams…not just two guys thrown together because creative has nothing else for them. The woman’s match should be fantastic with Charlotte and Natalya battling it out in an actual WRESTLING match.
As for AJ Styles, while I don’t see him winning the WWE title, I do think that his boys Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows will have a heavy hand in the outcome. As stated by me in the last sermon, I cannot nor will not base what is happening now on what happened at Wrestlemania. This is the WWE sort of hitting the reset button with their talent and personally I couldn’t be any happier.
Jamie: I’ll back track slightly, if WWE can sell me on this event then I might watch it. They have to make me want to watch it though.
My pessimism is both from a casual fan point of view and that of someone who has watched WWE for years. If Wrestlemania didn’t mean anything storyline wise then what hope do casual fans have of latching onto something that does not appear to make sense? If the biggest show of year meant nothing then why would someone want to watch Payback? If wins, losses and stipulations don’t mean anything then what is there to care about?
In terms of the tag division, the tournament is pretty cool as is the apparent influx of new tandems. This is currently the one thing drawing me to the card. Problem is, I’ve been here before. WWE press the reset button, decide to push tag team wrestling etc. If AJ Styles is still being pushed at the top of the card and there is significant time dedicated to tag team wrestling when John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, The Authority etc. all return then fair enough. I’m not holding my breath though. Payback, for me, is like Wrestlemania; doesn’t matter. Order shall be restored when injuries clear up and AJ Styles will be competing for the US Title while all these tag teams will be pushed down to Main Event.
Brian: Jamie, I understand your pessimism…I really do. It is fair to feel that the bottom will drop out at any minute. I think Cesaro is truly going to get pushed and the Women’s division has improved leaps and bounds simply by a name and title change. The tag team division is robust and will get even more plentiful when Eddie and Orlando Colon re debut
The question is AJ Styles and can he sustain his push? That remains to be seen, but I do have high hopes that the WWE will continue to change with the times. It’s a good time for fans of the WWE. I am just going to sit back and enjoy what I have been seeing as of late. The addition of Seth Rollins and Randy Orton will only strengthen their roster.
Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles….Randy Orton vs Sami Zayn etc…etc…This is exactly what fans have been clamoring for for months and months. It has seemingly become a reality. I will enjoy the ride as long as they choose to go in this direction.
Craig: I see that Bret Hart is in Natalya’s corner for her match with Charlotte. I hope he and Ric Flair won’t overshadow the women. That wouldn’t be good at all.
I think the Bullet Club stuff the most interesting thing about the lead up to things. It could really lead to anything and that’s a good thing.
As for Cesaro, I do wonder where they are going. Will he beat The Miz for the IC title?
Brian: Yeah, I agree I hope that Ric and Bret don’t overshadow two tremendous women wrestlers. Then again, they had this same exact match on NXT a while ago and it didn’t so fingers crossed.
There is no question that Cesaro is finally getting a singles push. If what we read is true, Vince McMahon finally saw potential in him right before he injured his shoulder. The guy has “it”and I see a lot of singles gold in his future.
Craig: You can only hope that Vince has started to see the thing in Cesaro that fans have long seen. Where that goes, we’ll just have to see.
I think when you look at the Payback card there is certainly an element of freshness about it, something I hope they don’t spoil by playing out the matches week in, week out on Raw and Smackdown. If they don’t, it looks a bit like the reset button has been pressed with the pushing of new stars, debut of fresh talent and matches that fans have been crying out for.
That’s something we can all welcome, right? I’d still be keen to see fresh names for the non “big five” PPVs…
Brian: I certainly hope so Jamie. Finn Balor vs AJ Styles is intriguing to me. Former Bullet Club leaders fighting each other. What is there not to love about that?
Freshness is the key word here. We have been constantly clamoring for it and now that we have it in front of us, we must embrace it. Otherwise, all that makes us are a bunch of whiners. This to me is a new era and era that I hope the WWE will follow through on even when some of the notorious mainstays like John Cena and Randy Orton return.
Are we being too enthusiastic about this year’s Payback event? Does it present a fresh approach to things or are our glasses surprisingly half full? Leave your thoughts, as always, in the comments below.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.