While the Payback pay-per-view is a secondary show for the WWE, the rumors and news surrounding the event have the WWE Universe genuinely looking forward to what could be the most underrated cards of 2013.
Where: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Ill.
When: Sunday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Pay-per-view (local cable providers)
Live Stream: WWE.com
This PPV will feature bona fide superstars like John Cena, Chris Jericho and the return of CM Punk in his first match since WrestleMania 29.
Add in the fact that the Money in the Bank PPV is the following month (July 14), and WWE will be posturing for that event by booking the outcomes from Payback to set the ground work for the next month of programming.
This card and build will make Payback an event worth watching.
While the WWE’s commitment to CM Punk was shown through their willingness to pay for the right to use Living Colour’s Cult of Personality as his theme song, a report from F4WOnline via Wrestling Inc. claims that the company could be considering a new intro:
We noted before that CM Punk appeared on stage at a Rancid concert this past week. Lars from the band joked about creating a new theme song for Punk's return to WWE. This led to online talk that Punk would be getting a new theme but it was reported Lars was just joking around. Now, apparently there is talk within WWE that Punk will be getting a new theme. We will see at tonight's Payback pay-per-view.
The idea that his theme song will be different seems to go along with the notion that Punk will be returning as a face. If the WWE is planning a face turn, a change in music would be a definitive sign of that.
If Punk returns to his standard theme in Chicago at Payback, there will likely be no turn.
Despite the WWE teasing a face turn for Dolph Ziggler’s heavy Big E. Langston, a new report from Wrestling Inc. claims that the plans have been ditched and the muscle-bound star’s future now involves going head-to-head with former world champion Mark Henry:
According to a source, Big E Langston's babyface turn is no longer in the works. The Wrestling Observer recently reported that there had been talk of Mark Henry turning face for awhile now, and with Henry out of action with an injury, Big E was said to be taking his spot. With Henry returning this Monday, those plans have changed. It remains to be seen if WWE will go back to their original plan of having Big E and Mark Henry feud, culminating with a strongman vs. strongman battle at SummerSlam.
Langston has been much better on the mic than expected since debuting on the main roster, and a huge push against Mark Henry would be a great start to the former NXT champion’s singles career in the WWE.
There will always be a tension between Ziggler, AJ Lee and Langston—that should eventually turn into Langston trying to win the World Heavyweight Championship and breaking up the dream team—but keeping the trio intact for now is the smart move for WWE.
Together, this heel group can generate plenty of heat.
Stop me if you have heard this before. According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter via Wrestling Inc., the WWE is ready to bring back former world champion Christian and the return has become a top priority for the company:
There has been talk about finding a storyline for Christian to return with but word now is that coming up with one has been made somewhat of a priority. Christian is expected back on WWE TV soon.
Pardon me if I’m slightly skeptical after months of rumored returns and storylines that never actually came to fruition. As one of the better mic workers in the company and a legitimate midcard face with World Championship experience, the fact that the WWE hasn’t brought him back yet is an absolute joke.
The hope when he does eventually return is to feud with one of the company’s great heels that are wallowing in the midcard with no feud and no storyline. Look for guys like Antonio Cesaro and Wade Barrett to be top candidates to feud Christian upon his return.
WWE’s Payback pay-per-view is just a few days away, but the rumors surrounding the event are coming fast and furious as the event approaches. While there have been some talk about what may happen after Sunday’s show, there is some new scuttlebutt about the how the actual PPV shakes out.
According to F4WOnline via Wrestling Inc., the WWE will use Payback as a launching point for the continued rise back to the top for champion John Cena:
As of this week, Ryback is not scheduled to win the WWE Title from John Cena at Sunday's Payback pay-per-view. The whole idea behind the Three Stages of Hell match is that it will be used as a vehicle to get Cena over big for the summer.
Cena is the top star in the company already, and the idea of another reign with the veteran as long-term champion is not exciting to a vocal minority of fans. Too bad for those fans that the face of the company isnt going anywhere but back to the top of the mountain
Not only is this expected to be the summer of Cena in the WWE, there is another rumor in the same report that should have fans just as intrigued. The report claims, “On a related note, it’s possible we see two heels turns at Payback, one with [Daniel] Bryan and the other with Chris Jericho.”
These would be momentous changes to the current direction the company is heading over the next few months, and if two heel turns actually come to fruition—Jericho’s heel turn would also help turn Punk face at the same time—this would be a PPV to remember.
Let’s just hope Randy Orton turns heel instead of Bryan, though.
CM Punk is scheduled to face Chris Jericho at Payback on Sunday night in his hometown of Chicago, but he hasn't been seen since the week after WrestleMania XXIX and there is some concern among fans that this is nothing more than a ruse.
Jericho had Paul Heyman on The Highlight Reel as a guest a couple weeks ago and challenged Punk to a match. Heyman was reluctant to agree at first, but Jericho called himself "the best in the world," which set Heyman off and caused him to accept the match on Punk's behalf.
Heyman and Jericho then engaged in a contract signing the following week on Raw, so the match is seemingly official. Since Punk has yet to appear on WWE programming, though, the possibility of a swerve remains.
It's an interesting thought, but it wouldn't be a good business move on the WWE's part. Punk is arguably the second-most-popular regular performer on the WWE roster behind John Cena, so it stands to reason that some fans will buy the pay-per-view or attend it solely to see Punk compete.
If Punk doesn't wrestle, then the WWE puts itself in a situation where fans could potentially demand refunds, and that isn't something the WWE wants to do. Because of that alone, look for Punk to appear and wrestle at Payback.
Although Punk hasn't confirmed or denied appearing at Payback, he did mention the event while attending a recent concert, according to Richard Gray of WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
Punk joked that one of the band Rancid and Transplant's songs should be his entrance theme at Payback. Punk likes to play with people's minds and not everything he says should be taken at face value, but that comment is a pretty good indication that he'll be a part of Payback on Sunday.
*Update by Mike Chiari on Wednesday, June 12 at 9:15 a.m. ET
Heading into Monday night's edition of Raw, there were a lot of question marks regarding the Payback card. A handful of matches such as John Cena vs. Ryback for the WWE Championship and CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho has already been announced well ahead of time, but the supporting matches were unclear.
That changed on Raw as several bouts were announced in what seemed like rapid-fire succession. The pay-per-view is suddenly stuffed to the rafters with eight contests, though, and all signs point toward that resulting in a fantastic show.
Here is the full Payback match card, complete with stipulations, according to WWE.com:
|John Cena vs. Ryback||Three Stages of Hell||WWE Championship|
|CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho||N/A||N/A|
|Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio||N/A||World Heavyweight Championship|
|Dean Ambrose vs. Kane||N/A||United States Championship|
|Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan & Randy Orton||N/A||Tag Team Championships|
|Wade Barrett vs. The Miz vs. Curtis Axel||Triple Threat||Intercontinental Championship|
|Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee||N/A||Divas Championship|
|Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow||Kickoff Match||N/A|
Dolph Ziggler made his return to WWE programming on Monday after missing five weeks with a concussion. He didn't compete on Raw, but he did accompany Big E Langston to the ring for a match against Chris Jericho and he was then attacked by World Heavyweight Championship No. 1 contender Alberto Del Rio.
Del Rio earned the No. 1 contender spot at Extreme Rules by defeating Jack Swagger in an "I Quit" match and he has since been feuding with Langston. Now that The Showoff is back in the fold, however, Del Rio can refocus his attention on the world title.
The ongoing feud between The Shield and the dysfunctional unit of Kane, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton was also sorted out on Monday. Rather than giving Team Hell No another shot at Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns' Tag Team Championships, general manager Vickie Guerrero had other ideas.
Vickie decided to pit Bryan and Orton against Rollins and Reigns, which should make for some interesting moments, particularly after The Viper hit Bryan with an RKO on SmackDown.
Kane wasn't left out of the equation either as he will take on Dean Ambrose for the United States Championship. It seems like things are now completely jumbled when it comes to this angle, but it should make for two entertaining matches regardless.
A triple-threat match for the Intercontinental Championship between Wade Barrett, The Miz and Fandango was originally scheduled, but things changed as Fandango is the latest WWE superstar felled by a concussion, according to WWE.com.
Rather than simply sticking with a singles match between Barrett and Miz, however, Paul Heyman announced that his new client, Curtis Axel, had been inserted into the match as well. Axel has to be the favorite to capture the title that his father, Mr. Perfect, carried so well during the early 1990s.
AJ Lee earned the No. 1 contendership for Kaitlyn's Divas Championship several weeks ago, and the match is finally going to happen at Payback. Langston revealed himself to be Kaitlyn's secret admirer, but it was all a ruse as he broke her heart and AJ cut one of the best diva promos in recent memory.
It isn't easy to be interested in divas feuds these days, but AJ did a fantastic job of selling this match and making people care.
Finally, it was announced that Sheamus and Damien Sandow's feud will continue at Payback as they face each other in a special kickoff pre-show match. It's a bit surprising that Sheamus will be on the pre-show since he is one of the company's biggest stars, but it should help drum up some last-minute interest before the event.
Perhaps the Payback card didn't play out the way many expected it to, but it should be a solid B-level pay-per-view nonetheless.
*Updated by Mike Chiari on Tuesday, June 11 at 7:55 a.m. ET
While Triple H has sworn that he will fight Curtis Axel on Monday’s edition of Raw, according to F4WOnline via Wrestling Inc., there are reports that the match will be featured on the Payback pay-per-view:
The Triple H concussion storyline was reportedly pushed up from this year's SummerSlam pay-per-view. This could mean that the Triple H vs. Curtis Axel match was planned for SummerSlam but is being done at Payback now.
Triple H vs. Curtis Axel would be a huge addition to the Payback card if it comes to fruition, but there still should be some doubts that this match will actually happen.
The WWE has gone all-in on this concussion storyline by using both Stephanie and Vince McMahon, and allowing a PPV match to happen despite the warnings from the family that he shouldn't compete is something the company wouldn’t do.
If the WWE teases this PPV match on Raw Monday, there is a chance it may not happen on Sunday due to the long-term plans for the concussion storyline.
While Triple H and Brock Lesnar ended their feud at Extreme Rules, a report from F4WOnline via Wrestling Inc. claims that the former UFC champion was originally booked to perform at Payback:
At one point, Brock Lesnar was scheduled for WWE's Payback pay-per-view, likely to do the match with Triple H that ended up taking place at Extreme Rules. Lesnar is even featured on some of the promotional material for Payback but is not expected to appear on WWE TV any time soon.
Lesnar would have been a great addition to the Payback card, but with the return of CM Punk and the Three Stages of Hell match for the WWE Championship, company officials were smart to save Lesnar’s limited dates for a more important event.
SummerSlam is approaching fast, and the WWE will likely be looking to use Lesnar once again around the company’s No. 2 PPV. Ensuring that there are more than enough dates on the contract by not booking him in June is smart long-term booking by the WWE.
Lesnar is valuable but more valuable on a marquee show.
While the excitement surrounding WWE’s Payback is growing exponentially by the day, the company is already looking ahead to July’s pay-per-view.
According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter via Wrestling Inc., WWE champion John Cena may already be booked to defend the title against Daniel Bryan in the main event of Money in the Bank:
WWE officials have very big plans for Daniel Bryan this summer. Right now, Bryan vs. WWE Champion John Cena is the penciled in main event for the July 14th Money in the Bank pay-per-view from Philadelphia.
Word is that it will be a babyface vs. babyface match. WWE officials are fully aware that Bryan will be heavily cheered in Philadelphia. The feeling is that officials won't try to turn Bryan heel but that may change.
This is great news for Bryan, who has been picking up steam for the last two years, but this is horrible news for Ryback or the fans of the muscle-bound superstar, as it likely mean another PPV loss.
Cena would have to beat Ryback clean or at least in a convincing enough fashion to end the feud in order to move onto Bryan, and another PPV loss for Ryback is terrible for his character.
After yet another possible defeat, Ryback’s credibility would be destroyed.
While there are many speculated matches that could be added to the card, the only bouts confirmed for Payback thus far are as follows:
WWE Champion John Cena vs. Ryback (Three Stages of Hell Match)
Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk
Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. Fandango vs. The Miz (Triple Threat Match)
There will undoubtedly be several matches added to the card—The Shield will likely defend their titles and Team Hell No will have a role—but the card thus far should have wrestling fans excited already.
Since the WWE lost King of the Ring, June PPVs have been nothing. This card and the way the rest of the event could shake out should give fans optimism.
Even if you aren’t a fan of Ryback vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship, the return of CM Punk is great for the company. After Monday’s Raw, this show’s card should be flat-out amazing.
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