Welcome to WNW’s Payback 2014 Predictions! Payback will be emanating this year from the Allstate Arena in CM Punk's hometown of Chicago, Illinois! This time, we have Brooks Oglesby, Chris Surrency, and myself providing full predictions, while Andre Holly II, better known here as Xavier, CJ Blaze, Kendra Bunyon, and Mike McCarthy are providing quick picks. Let's get to it!
Mask vs. Hair Kickoff Match
El Torito vs. Hornswoggle
First off, as silly and nonsensical as this feud has been, I have loved every second of it due to just how far Hornswoggle and 3MB take things in it. Ripping off El Torito's tail was great comedy last week on Raw. And considering how well they worked the WeeLC match last month, I'm expecting another fun and great opener to the rest of the card. Considering El Torito was masked in Mexico before coming into WWE and the fact that the heels have only won one Preshow match up to this point, I am almost 100% certain Hornswoggle is leaving Chi-town balder than Professor Xavier.
Jesse Predicts: El Torito
Aside from the cringeworthy nonstop jokes from commentary, I'm surprised so few people are enjoying this feud. Wrestling is ridiculous so it's okay to have some off-the-wall stuff like this to contrast with the serious stuff. Hornswoggle has been boring for most - if not all - of his WWE career, but now he finally has something interesting to do and a talented opponent to work with. It's silly, but if you saw the WeeLC match, it also has the potential to be really exciting. I'm sure plenty of people will be complaining about this "insulting their intelligence" or whatever, but I hope those people come to understand the appeal of self-aware, lighthearted wrestling. Not everything has to be Shawn Michaels retires Ric Flair-levels of emotion. Wrestling can just be fun. If it's any good, I bet plenty of casual fans watching the show will remember this match fondly. Anyway, they're not unmasking Torito yet, so Hornswoggle's losing his hair.
Brooks Predicts: El Torito
The easiest match on the card to guess, there's no way that WWE allows the mascot of their absurdly multi-racial tag team to go without his mask. Somehow the members of 3MB get taken out and Torito pins Horswoggle after a death defying splash from the second rope, as a result we get a former leprechaun who now wants to be a rock star, with a bald head.
Chris Predicts: El Torito
Xavier Predicts: El Torito
Kendra Predicts: El Torito
CJ Predicts: El Torito
Mike Predicts: El Torito
Rusev vs. Big E
Honestly, is there a single person that isn't going to use this match as their bathroom break? I like Big E. He has a personality that is being squandered on TV. Watch his NXT and WWE App stuff and you know that he can talk well if given a chance. And he isn't a bad worker, if he would just be a bit more careful. But Rusev, while he is built like an upside down pyramid, is only entertaining because he has one of the hottest women in WWE by his side. But WWE is going to push Rusev down our throats exactly the same way they did Ryback 2 years ago, so I expect him to stay undefeated until at least October, where he will fail in a main event push and be regulated to midcard purgatory for the rest of his tenure.
Jesse Predicts: Rusev
I can't see this match being much. Rusev already steamrolled an upcoming big face in Mojo Rawley without it even being competitive, and they're too lukewarm on Big E to give him the big win over Rusev. It won't be a total squash, Big E will get a second wind, but he'll end up getting caught in the Accolade. Look for Rusev to go undefeated until at least SummerSlam. Rusev utria, Rusev matschka.
Brooks Predicts: Rusev
This won't be a technical marvel. In the words of Jim Ross I expect this match to be "bowling shoe ugly," it's going to be brutal and the guys are going to look like they're really kicking the piss out of one another, and for all we know the might be. Big E will also prove to be unable to take down the Bulgarian Brute on his own, with Xavier Woods giving the slight hint of an N.O.D. reboot, Rusev could be the man who is used as the catalyst to that union. Rusev crushes Big E, forcing him to tap to the Accolade.
Chris Predicts: Rusev
Xavier Predicts: Rusev
Kendra Predicts: Big E via DQ
CJ Predicts: Rusev
Mike Predicts: Rusev
WWE Divas Championship Match
Paige © vs. Alicia Fox
I love Paige, but she has been booked like utter dog feces since she came up to the main roster. And I do have to say I am very pleasantly surprised how Alicia Fox has been presenting herself of late, both in and out of the ring. For someone who just a few months ago we would dread to see on our screens, she has proven that maybe it was bad booking and opponents who wouldn't let her shine through the rest of the divas. And while I sincerely hope they aren't going to end Paige's run this quickly, I do see why TPTB would give Alicia the title. But tonight isn't the night for that. I can't wait to see her lose to Paige and have an epic meltdown in Chicago!
Jesse Predicts: Paige
I never thought I'd see the day where I thought Alicia winning the belt again seemed possible. Alicia's really generated some buzz with her recent outbursts and has become a shining example of what can happen when you let Divas have characters and be interesting. Unfortunately, such an interesting character is an outlier in the current division, which makes Alicia more interesting than Paige, currently. That being said, WWE still seems intent on having Paige on top in AJ's absence, so she's the favorite to win, but having Fox win would generate greater interest in the feud, as well as subverting the common trope of "New person comes in and dominates for several months," which made outcomes like Paige/Tamina obvious and uninteresting. Maybe putting the belt on Alicia would be the smarter move, but I think WWE's still keeping it on Paige.
Brooks Predicts: Paige
I know I'll probably be wrong on this one, but I don't want to be, I'm a huge fan of Paige nd the work she's done coming from NXT to the main roster so I would love to see her get the victory in this match and carry the title forward, especially with the chance that AJ Lee could be back soon, especially with the chances being that she shows up at Payback. If AJ were to return, this would allow for Paige to keep the title via AJ attacking her during the match causing her to win via disqualification, which is what I see happening.
Chris Predicts: Paige via DQ
Xavier Predicts: Alicia Fox
Kendra Predicts: Paige
CJ Predicts: Paige
Mike Predicts: Paige
WWE United States Championship Match
Sheamus © vs. Cesaro
This is going to be a physical match, and quite a stiff one. Both Sheamus and Cesaro are powerful workers, and both are clearly top tier. And while Cesaro is trying to establish himself in this top spot despite Paul Heyman overshadowing him, Sheamus has been in the top of the card for years. But at this point in time, if they are going to pull the trigger on Cesaro, they need to go full bore on it, and not give him a midcard title to flounder with like they have done so many others. I can see Sheamus winning here, most likely clean. That will start some seeds of dissension between Heyman and Cesaro.
Jesse Predicts: Sheamus
Like the IC title match, this is another example of the competitors elevating the title. Cesaro and Sheamus are, by default, better than the scarce amount of defenses under Ambrose's reign, and still better than Ambrose/Kofi or any other decidedly midcard title match. Sheamus is a guy that, although he's been away from the main event scene for a while, could feasibly be inserted back into the WWE title picture without it looking forced. He's credible, and Cesaro's getting easily the strongest push of his career so far. Not to mention, these dudes are gonna stiff the heck out of each other. As bad as Sheamus' character is, he's great when he's fighting another huge guy for 20 minutes. It may surprise those who don't expect it, but this should be a very good match. It could go either way, and I think this match has a higher chance of a title change than the IC Title match, but I can't bet against Sheamus, especially with a heel turn looming. Cesaro gets caught with a Brogue Kick after a lengthy, brutal match.
Brooks Predicts: Sheamus
I know, the first thought of many people would be that I'm insane, that there's no way WWE drops the ball on Cesaro in the middle of his run, and you're right. What I see happening is that Cesaro gets disqualified, either he can't pin Sheamus and takes out the ref, or he goes off on Sheamus outside the ring at some point because he's having trouble keeping the big Irishman down, either way Sheamus wins and retains his US Championship.
Chris Predicts: Sheamus
Xavier Predicts: Cesaro
Kendra Predicts: Cesaro
CJ Predicts: Draw
Mike Predicts: Sheamus via DQ
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Bad News Barrett © vs. Rob Van Dam
RVD returned the night after WrestleMania, and all we have seen him do is flounder around yet again. Creative obviously has nothing for him other than to pick up some TV wins so he can make whomever he is facing at the next "Special Event" look like they are great. And Barrett has been on a huge roll of late. He took a gimmick most people were annoyed with out of the gate and turned into something that most fans are getting behind. Heck, when you get the crowd to say your catchphrase with you every time you come out, you have something special. And with how Barrett has been portraying himself and defending the IC Title, he is actually helping elevate it back to being the #2 Title in the company. So RVD... I'M AFRAID I'VE GOT SOME BAD NEWS!!!
Jesse Predicts: Bad News Barrett
As bored as I am with RVD, he's credible enough to keep the IC title elevated to a certain extent. A few months ago, it was Big E vs. Fandango for the belt, and this is a significant step up from that. It could be better, but it could be way, way worse. RVD should probably never win a singles title again, and Barrett's on a pretty good roll right now, so there's no reason for him to lose this one. Barrett's already had a million stopped pushes at this point, why ruin this one too? Look for a mid-air elbow to the face to decisively put RVD away.
Brooks Predicts: Bad News Barrett
It's far too soon to end Barrett's climb, he's over with the fans and he's been putting on some of the most impressive matches of his career over this run, he catches Van Dam with the Bull Hammer as RVD tries one of his springboard kicks, leaving him lying and Barrett basking in the glory that is his ascent to the top of the WWE once again.
Chris Predicts: Bad News Barrett
Xavier Predicts: Bad News Barrett
Kendra Predicts: Bad News Barrett
CJ Predicts: Bad News Barrett
Mike Predicts: Bad News Barrett
Last Man Standing Match
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
I will fully admit I am a huge Bray Wyatt fan, and have been very glad that Cena has been working with him, as it has clearly established him as a top tier star. But when this was announced as a Last Man Standing Match, I immediately got sick to my stomach. Sure, Cena is only 2-2-1 in last man standing matches, but his two wins have come from the help of his old tag partner, El Cinta Adhesiva (Duct Tape) So color me a bit skeptical that WWE will let Bray go over here. However, having Bray lose here could severely dampen his progress. We've all seen just how damaging losing a feud like this to Cena can be. So against my better judgment, I'm going to say Bray wins in some mysterious manner. Maybe the lights go out as Bray is being counted out and when they come to, Cena is knocked out, suspended in the ropes to where he can't stand even if he wanted to.
Jesse Predicts: Bray Wyatt
This might be the most inconsistent feud in recent memory in terms of how wildly it changes from boring to interesting. With that being said, it's time for this feud to come to a close, and what that means is that Cena's going over. That's not the worst thing in the world, as Bray will be fine, but it's what's expected in Round 3 of a Cena feud. They'll do it in some kind of cheesy way (duct tape, etc.) to "protect" Bray, but either way, Cena's winning this one and both of them are hopefully moving on to more compelling things.
Brooks Predicts: John Cena
Bray finally gets the push finalized, yes he gets help from his "brothers" in Harper and Rowan, but at the end of it all John Cena is left lying for the ten count. It'll be the most violent and possibly one of the bloodiest matches in recent memory with both men beating the ever loving hell out of one another, but you can't derail the climb for Bray, especially with rumors that he may be going for the WWE Championship at Summer Slam, he has to go over, making him the most dangerous man in WWE from her forward.
Chris Predicts: Bray Wyatt
In what’s likely the main reason people are tuning in to Payback this Sunday, John Cena enters his sixth Last Man Standing match against Bray Wyatt. Though people like to say John Cena is unbeatable in these matches, Cena has only won two Last Man Standing matches in his career. I’ll cut to the chase, the losing trend in these matches is only going to continue for John Cena. At Payback, though all logic will point to Cena avenging his loss at Extreme Rules, having a future superstar like Bray Wyatt put over Cena twice is not a good move. A point we make a lot is “by intentionally making somebody look weak heading into the PPV, it really mens that they’re the favorite.” and it’s 100% true. Though Wyatt won at ER, Cena clearly looks like the favorite heading into the match. If Bray Wyatt were to lose again, the whole purpose of this program will be deminished. Therefore, Bray Wyatt will be the Last Man Standing.
Mike Predicts: Bray Wyatt
Xavier Predicts: John Cena
Kendra Predicts: Bray Wyatt, with help from Harper and Rowan and possibly someone new.
CJ Predicts: Bray Wyatt
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Segment
Daniel Bryan, with Brie Brella, will be “forced” to surrender the title to Stephanie McMahon or Brie will be “fired”
WWE has dragged the title situation out for FAR too long. And I understand why, as stripping their most popular champion in years could really hurt them. But this is something that they shouldn't have lollygagged around on and at the very least done some sort of Interim Champion scenario so that there was a WWEWHC match on the card. But the big thing for me is how they delayed out the decision this week. If Bryan refuses, Brie is fired? It sounds a bit too convenient for me, especially with the comments she made in the media this week that she is close to retiring and wants kids soon. I get the feeling that she may be just a few weeks along and learned it over last weekend. So this makes my predict very clear!
Jesse Predicts: Bryan refuses and Brie is fired so she can be a mommy!
I can't say I'm entirely sure what they're going to do here. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows how big of a mark I am for Bryan, but I understand - both from a real and kayfabe point of view - why Bryan should be stripped of the title. The mark in me doesn't want that because he was live at WrestleMania and practically did a backflip off his seat when Batista tapped out, but I understand. I will say that I think Brie getting fired is an actual possibility. Not that Bryan would ever choose the title over his wife, but Brie's been talking about wanting to hang up her boots and become a mom soon, and it's no secret that Brie's segments have been pretty much universally panned. And how brutal would it be if Bryan chose to give up his title and Stephanie fired Brie anyway? There are a million ways this could go, but most of them involve Bryan giving up the title, so if I had to pick, that's what's happening. Maybe Vince will come out and defend Bryan, maybe Brie will voluntarily walk out, maybe Bryan has John Cena's superhealing gene and he'll be ready to defend the title already. Unfortunately, it seems like giving up the title is just more likely to happen. I'm excited to see Bryan healthy and ready to take back his title, and I'm pretty certain that he'll get it back fairly soon. The Bryan/Authority stuff could use a break anyway, and having Bryan rest up is more important to me than having him continue that dreadful, embarrassing, boring Kane feud. Did you know that this will be the first PPV since 2011 in which Bryan won't be wrestling? Dude deserves a good rest. Just please, don't give the title to Kane. Vacate it, give it to anyone else, I don't care. Just no more Kane/Bryan, please.
Brooks Predicts: Daniel Bryan is stripped of the title
I'll be short and sweet here, I expect Bryan to relenquish the championship to Stephanie in order to save his wife from being fired, but there will be a twist and he'll offer up a third option. Bryan will select someone to either carry the title or to fight in his place while he's out. Now for the move that'll make the internet communities collective heads explode, when Bryan makes his suggestion he'll introduce his replacement, Stephanie and the Bryans will turn and look at the stage, and CM Punk returns. Hey, it's pro wrestling, it could happen, right? I mean Punk WAS seen jogging, and he IS in the Chicago area for some strange reason, he's GOT TO be coming back at Payback.
Chris Predicts: Option C
Xavier Predicts: Bryan refuses to surrender the title.
Kendra Predicts: Something big will happen. Bryan won't be stripped & Brie won't be fired.
CJ Predicts: Bryan refuses to surrender the title.
No Holds Barred Elimination Match
The Shield vs. Evolution
Now this is the match I am looking forward to! The Shield and Evolution have both been at each other for the last two months now, and I have been enthralled with every step of it. It honestly feels like WWE is throwing everything Creative has into this, and I am sure that we will see a good old fashioned slobberknocker out of 5 of the six men. Expect some crazy spots and Rollins to probably steal the show yet again with another insane dive, but we know that The Shield can't come out of this one on top. This program has legs enough on it to go to Summerslam, so Evolution needs to win to make it happen. I fully expect The Shield to get down to just Reigns and he take out Batista and Orton before Triple H brings out his infamous Sledge to finish the job. And don't worry, Batista will get his on Raw the next night...
Jesse Predicts: Evolution (Triple H lone survivor)
I hope this is the blowoff to this part of the feud, but I doubt it is. The brawls are exciting but it's clear to me that WWE doesn't know how to book tag feuds aside from just "alternating beatdowns." It helps that everyone in the feud is talented in some way, but they could all be doing better things at this point. It's getting to the point where it's been too long since Triple H has gotten a win. That notion isn't coming from a place of "Triple H's ego won't let him lose!" but from a "Triple H hasn't won a televised match since WrestleMania 29, and before that, his most recent TV win was at TLC 2011. He knows the importance of strong heels, and he doesn't want to fall into Chris Jericho territory, so I'm thinking Evolution takes this one. Roman will be at a disadvantage, as the only Shield member left against Evolution. He'll make a heroic comeback but Evolution will cheat at the last minute to screw him out of a win.
Brooks Predicts: Evolution
It's hard to figure the eliminations in this match, it'll be hardcore and will make for one of the most epic matches of the night, to continue the push of Roman Reigns I see him getting outnumbered in this match, I'm not sure if it'll be Reigns against all three or against Triple H and Batista, but at the end of the day I see Reigns taking them out. Roman Reigns winds up beating down Batista, giving him the chance to take time off to promote his upcoming movie. While Ambrose and Rollins are elimnated and away from ringside, I see them coming down to celebrate with Reigns and putting Batista through multiple tables.
Chris Predicts: The Shield
Why reform Evolution to have them do two jobs to The Shield? Why bring back Batista if you’re going to make him 0-3 in PPV matches since turning him heel? The answer to these questions is simple, you don’t. People can argue all day that The Shield needs to win this match since they’re elevating three workers at the same time. But I personally feel that The Shield are already main eveners in WWE. Their in-ring work might be the best from a trio we’ve ever seen. Not only that but they know how to put on a show. Evolution on the other hand, is made up of two main event scapegoats and the boss. Evolution needs to win this match to ensure the WWE Universe is sold on Evolution. Evolution winning this match is a given, the real question is how. I firmly believe that we are going to see the newest member of Evolution revealed during this match. With the match being No Holds Barred Elimination, anybody that’s been watching WWE television since SummerSlam knows that No Holds Barred means outside interference from The Authority. So who will it be? It could be anybody from Big E to Sheamus. But I’m gonna predict that The Rhodes Brothers will come out to help The Shield, with Cody Rhodes turning on the four and aligning with Evolution.
Mike Predicts: Evolution
Xavier Predicts: Evolution
Kendra Predicts: The Shield with Reigns left standing over Triple H
CJ Predicts: The Shield
Thanks for joining us for our Predicts this month! Be sure to join us tomorrow for our live coverage of Payback and if you are a Premium Member, joining Kendra, myself and some of the other writers in the Live Blog to get our instant thoughts and analysis! Feel free to post your Predicts in the comments below!