Thursday, August 31, 2023

WWE Payback 2023 Preview & Predictions

Busy weekend this Labor Day with back-to-back PPVs Saturday and Sunday night.  And oddly both shows are kind of lacking in star power while also looking on paper like a series of good matches.  

The first one is WWE Payback, traditionally one of the company's lesser shows.  And true to said tradition, this show feels like a low B-PPV lineup.  Still I'm interested in seeing a few of these bouts, particularly the World Title match.  Plus the two women's matches are holdovers from the intended SummerSlam card.  Oh and there's a Grayson Waller talk show segment featuring Cody Rhodes, because that sorta thing belongs on a paid event.  But let's get into it....

LA Knight vs. The Miz

This is not one of the more intriguing matches for me.  The Miz is beyond damaged goods at this point, a buffoon not to be taken seriously as a threat to anyone, while I simply don't get the LA Knight obsession, the same way I didn't get why everyone loved Zack Ryder 12 years ago.  Like, he's fine.  He's a reasonably entertaining act, I just don't see him as a top guy at all.  But this match should be alright, they're both perfectly capable in the ring and good at character work.

Pick: LA Knight is obviously winning

US Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Austin Theory

Here's a rematch from a few weeks back, when Rey Mysterio was allowed a title shot to replace Santos Escobar who had won a tournament over Mysterio for said title shot.  To be fair I guess Rey was legit injured in that tourney final and was probably supposed to win it.  Anyway, not much interest from me in this match either, it should be fine.  My first instinct says Theory regains the title here, as that Mysterio win felt like just a quick feelgood moment.

Pick: Theory  

Women's World Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez

Ok now we're talkin'.  Ripley hasn't been given a real challenge since winning the title at WrestleMania and this match has been building for a while.  These two feuded in NXT during the pandemic and now they're on a bigger stage.  Both are legitimate powerhouse athletes and this should be a fine contest.  I don't see Rhea losing the strap yet since she's one of the hottest acts in the company, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they did the change here to set up a rematch.  Maybe a DQ or countout finish?  

Pick: I'll go with R.R...........oh, sorry, Rhea Ripley retains

Steel Cage: Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus

This match on paper looks very good, two of the biggest women's stars in company history in a cage.  But it sounds like their first match together wasn't all that great; hopefully they can pull this one off.  Becky has not been thrilled with how the feud has been presented, nor with being left off the summer's biggest show.  Maybe she and Trish will use this as an opportunity to show the company how wrong they were.

Pick: Becky has to win

WWE Tag Team Championship: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Finn Balor & Damien Priest

I feel like this match has happened a million times on RAW, or am I mistaken?  Haven't Owens and Zayn been low-key feuding with Judgment Day for months?  Anyway, Finn and pals (minus Rhea) have been presented as a non-threat in every major match they've had since forming, losing to Edge, Rey and Seth in various combinations over the last year.  It's sadly impossible to take them seriously as a heel stable.  Finn and Priest are obviously headed for a feud at some point soon, so putting the titles on them doesn't make much sense.

Pick: KO & Sami retain

World Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Speaking of guys who are impossible to take as serious threats, where was WWE's enthusiasm for Shinsuke this whole goddamn time?  Dude hasn't been presented as a credible contender since 2018 and suddenly he's in the title picture?  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for him and I'm happy to see him in a real PPV match finally, but why does this company forget about a guy for literally years and then suddenly remember to use him?  Maybe push someone unique like Nakamura on a consistent basis?  Anyway this match should be really good, likely the best thing on the show.

Pick: But Seth's retaining

So yeah, a low-key but decent lineup set for Saturday, and likely an easy three-hour watch.  Payback won't be winning any Show of the Year awards but hopefully it delivers.

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