Last night's WWE Payback pay-per-view had a little bit of everything.
First, there were title changes. Dolph Ziggler returned from a concussion only to lose to Alberto Del Rio in an entertaining match that was eerily similar to Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13 (in the same AllState Arena, then known as the Rosemont Horizon).
Dolph (the villain) was cheered throughout the match, while Del Rio (the hero) was vilified by the consistently loud Chicago audience. After winning the gold, Del Rio cut an eyebrow raising promo, further perpetuating his likely turn. Ziggler, meanwhile, much like Austin at WrestleMania 13, was attended to by doctors and referees, but made it out to the locker room on his own.
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- Father's Day
AJ won the divas championship. Kaitlyn cried and Layla tried to console her. The scene worked out well, and I find myself looking forward to what Kaitlyn has to say on Raw.
Curtis Axel is your new Intercontinental champion, winning the title his father held for so long, on Father's Day. It was a clever finish, with Miz locking Barrett in the figure four but Axel sneaking in to pin Barrett for the gold. Interesting how Axel's father, Mr. Perfect, when he was the IC champ, had the best manager of that era with him (Bobby Heenan), and now Axel as IC champ has the best manager of this era with him (Paul Heyman).
There were surprises. A vignette signalled Rob Van Dam's return to WWE at Money in the Bank. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a winner in a MITB briefcase match.
The crowd was red hot all night, which contributed greatly to the overall satisfaction of CM Punk's victory over Chris Jericho. There may have been more complaints about this one had it taken place in front of a quiet audience. The first half seemed to build slowly, but the pace picked up near the end. The crowd truly made the match, never staying silent, and overall you have to grade it well based on that.
There was also absurdity. John Cena retained the WWE championship by delivering an AA to Ryback through the roof of an ambulance. To be fair, the ambulance wasn't the most sturdy surface to begin with, falling apart at every angle it seemed. Ryback lost yet again while Cena stood tall, ready for the next challenge.
Dean Ambrose beat Kane by count out. I don't mind this finish, as superstars like Kane add credibility to the U.S. title and raises Ambrose's profile. Meanwhile, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns kept the tag titles against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, as you would expect. I'll guess Bryan is poised for a title rivalry very soon.
In the pre show, Sheamus defeated Damien Sandow in a decent match, one of the better pre-show matches WWE has presented.
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