Thursday, April 28, 2016

WWE Payback 2016 Predictions

Welcome to another round of WWE Predictions here at, where my esteemed (not really) colleague Dan Moore and I attempt prodigious feats of prognostication!

Yeah, so we both did horribly picking WrestleMania 32 winners, mostly because the booking at that show made no sense whatsoever.  I scored 5/11 and Dan turned in a measly 3/11.  Unreal.  Get your head outta your ass, Dan.

But maybe we can redeem ourselves this month, as WWE presents a PPV that looks WAAAAY better than WM32, Payback!  With Shane McMahon in charge (despite losing his WrestleMania match with control of RAW on the line - makes sense), RAW has become a much more watchable endeavor.  Fresh matchups, focus on newer talent, consistent wins to build up said talent, etc.  I'm sure control of RAW will go back to The A-Snore-ity soon (Get it?  Like "Authority" but with snoring?), but for a few weeks anyway things have actually been intriguing for a change.  So let's look at the Payback lineup...

Pre-Show US Championship: Kalisto vs. Ryback

Sigh.  Remember a year ago when John Cena made the US Title relevant again?  Yeah, that's all out the window.  We're back to this belt being a worthless piece of patriotic tin defended on a pre-show between two guys they've barely shown on RAW or Smackdown.  This match means absolutely zilch.

Justin's pick: I guess Kalisto retains again
Dan's pick: Dude, I don’t care. Have Ryback win, make him go on a killing spree.

Tag Team Tournament Finals: Enzo & Cass vs. The Vaudvillains

I like that there are actually enough teams now to do an 8-team tournament.  I like that the #1 Contenders' spot is meaningful enough for 8 teams to want to vie for it.  I like that two entertaining NXT call-up teams are in the finals.  This should be a solid outing.  Enzo & Cass are already over.  Not so sure about the Vaudvillains.

Justin's pick: I imagine the VVs win through nefarious means, perhaps due to Dudleyz interference.
Dan's pick: I like the cut of these Vaudvillains' gib.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin

Corbin was called up a little too soon in my estimation.  There are many more deserving NXT guys right now than he.  But he's got a pretty good character and a good look, and Ziggler will certainly make him look like a monster.  Poor Dolph.

Justin's pick: Corbin obviously
Dan's pick: I don’t care for this Corbin fellow. He’s balding, he wears a leather vest, and he stole "Lone Wolf" from Rambo. That said, Ziggler hasn’t won shit since back in the 60s. Bye bye, Dolph.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Cesaro

On paper Cesaro should KILL Miz, but I must say Maryse's presence has lit a fire under Mr. Mizanen and he's being presented better than he has since his WWE Title run.  Nice to see him matter again.  Also great to see Cesaro back in the ring.  2016 needs to be his year.  This won't be a five-star classic, but should be fun.

Justin's pick: Cesaro wins the match but not the belt
Dan's pick: I think Miz wins all filthy-like.

Women's Championship: Charlotte vs. Natalya

The women have finally turned the corner on the main roster.  A new belt that doesn't look like a stupid butterfly, a renewed focus on the women's athleticism, some actual screen time, it's all good.  And so is this matchup.  These two had a MOTY contender two years ago at NXT TakeOver, and another good match at Roadblock in February.  With Ric Flair and Bret Hart acting as cornermen it looks like they're trying to recreate the atmosphere of the first match.  Hopefully they're given comparable time, as this could steal the show (just as Charlotte, Sasha & Becky did at WrestleMania IMO).

Justin's pick: Charlotte retains
Dan's pick: I concur

Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

Another rematch from NXT TakeOver, Owens and Zayn have wrestled each other literally dozens of times over the years and know full-well how to put on killer matches.  This is another potential show stealer with a built-in history.  Give these guys 20 minutes and watch the fireworks.

Justin's pick: Owens desperately needs a win, while Zayn's underdog character can take a loss here and there
Dan's pick: I hope Owens takes it down

Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose

These two have had some good promo segments, and I anticipate the match to be just as good.  Nice to see Jericho being used to help get over some of the newer fellas again, while still posing a threat.  Not much else to say about this one - should be a fine contest.

Justin's pick: Ambrose
Dan's pick: My heart says Jericho, my brain picks Dean. Dean it is.

WWE Championship: Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles

Very cool (and surreal) to see Mr. Styles main eventing a WWE PPV.  This two have wildly divergent in-ring....well, styles, but this should be an explosive, enthralling main event.  Expect the Chicago crowd to eat Reigns alive and be 100% behind AJ.  The big variable is the involvement of Anderson & Gallows.  Whose side are they on?  Those familiar with New Japan know AJ, Anderson & Gallows were all Bullet Club members, so there's a history there.  But then turning AJ heel at this point would make zero sense - AJ is going to be unanimously cheered in Chicago.  However I also don't see Reigns forming a Bullet Club-type stable.  More likely Finn Balor shows up and screws AJ; Balor was the original Bullet Club leader/architect in New Japan, and having him reform the stable and feud with AJ would be GOLD.

Justin's pick: The newly-minted Balor Club costs AJ the match and Reigns retains

Dan's pick: I dunno shit about this Bullet Club, but that name is BOSS. They should keep that moniker for the group. Don’t be a buncha politically correct pussies and change it cause of violence and scary things. Christ, this country is full of crybabies nowadays. Back in my day, my Dad would shoot me if didn’t take out the trash. Not a kill shot, mind you, you don’t kill the free labor. Nah, he’d wing me, really put me on edge. He’d spit in my face and finish his whiskey after that, all the while kicking the dog.

Oh, Reigns wins.

Well that's your Payback lineup, and it looks pretty great.  I fully anticipate this show outclassing the five-hour clusterfuck that was WrestleMania 32, with three or even four Match of the Year possibilities and a potentially great show-closing angle.  Stay tuned for the recap next week!

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