The Payback main event was an entertaining match and delivered for many different reasons. What was looking like an unhealthy main event scene as a result of two of the top stars being absent, Daniel Bryan through injury and Brock Lesnar as per his contract terms, suddenly looks like it could be exciting again with lots of different possible directions.
Randy Orton seemed to be absent for most of the proceedings and may as well have been absent, as it was the ex-Shield members fighting to grab headlines, but Orton shouldn't be taken for granted. In the absence of Bryan and Lesnar he is the best all-round wrestler on the roster. He is so crisp and exact he makes almost everyone he faces look better than him, which is no mean feat. His know-how and experience will be vital in the development of the next generation but he is still relevant and deserving of a slot in and around the main events. Although he wasn't always involved in the action, it was a match made up of one on one encounters and he was at the centre of the action that decided the bout.
I half-predicted The Shield would reunite at Payback, it hasn't happened yet but it didn't stop the teasing. Perhaps it will not be too far away and may even coincide with the return of "The Beast Incarnate" Brock Lesnar. The teasing was incredibly enjoyable though and got a great reaction from the crowd. In fact the crowd connection throughout is what made this match special and cemented Ambrose and Reigns as main event stars alongside Rollins and Orton. The brief reunion followed by the double turn on Rollins, followed by the two attempts at getting Kane through the table at the crowds request and finally the interaction between Reigns and Ambrose before going head to head was a fantastic sequence of events.
I've said it before but Reigns if left to find his own character will be a massive success, it was the overly scripted cliché-riddled promos designed to get him over which served only to make people feel they were being force fed him. He has shown great character to keep his head down and keep trying to improve since the Royal Rumble and I think he is doing a great job. Both his in-ring and promo work continue to improve, proof of which was last month at Extreme Rules when he delivered one of the matches of the night against The Big Show which nobody really expected. Now that Daniel Bryan is no longer an issue I can't see the hostility from certain sections continuing for that much longer, especially as he continues to deliver.
As reported by Richard Gray here Mick Foley shared these sentiments but also had something to say about Dean Ambrose, someone who shares a few similarities with Mr Foley:
"As I’ve often mentioned, great moments are what make great matches – or at least great memories – and that that moment where Reigns told Ambrose that “loser buys the beers” gave me legitimate goosebumps. It was also a match that served notice that Ambrose belongs in these type of main event matches, and that the #WWEUniverse absolutely buys him as a main-event performer."
Although he was thrown into the mix at the last moment and without build up, Ambrose has taken to his main event involvement like a duck to water and has certainly made the most of his opportunity. He has been fantastic for such a long time, everything down to his facial expressions and mannerisms and at Payback he looked like he belonged. I'm sure it has not gone unnoticed and that he will be remaining in the top spots after Payback.
Seth Rollins walked away with the title and I was glad to see him get the win via pinfall even if he was on the receiving end of an assist by Kane. I know not everyone was happy but I agreed with the decision to semi-retire the "Curb Stomp" and I think that now Triple H is now only to appear sparingly in-ring that adopting "The Pedigree" is a good move. It is an iconic finisher and as well as keeping it alive as such it is also a nod to his mentor.
Payback proved that WWE has enough talent to make for many different main events over the next few months and it will be fascinating to see how the three ex-Shield members are used as individuals and potentially as a faction again.
PS A couple of things I would like to see changed:
1) Roman Reigns' entrance, the crowd thing has been done now
2) Dean Ambrose's ring attire, it is still looking very Luke Harper-ish and even Stone Cold didn't wrestle in jeans
3) Rollins' security team, they get absolutely destroyed every week, what exactly is the point?