Despite being one of the more predictable pay-per-views in recent months, WWE Payback delivered just enough surprises to stay entertaining.
Coming into the event, you pretty much knew John Cena would retain his title and CM Punk would win in his hometown.
Luckily for fans, the company threw in some major shocks that few fans could have seen coming. As a result, you've got things going in a vastly different direction than expected day or two ago.
Summers have generally delivered some very good feuds in the past, and this one looks no different. As the first real PPV of the summer Payback set the tone for what should be a great couple months of wrestling.
Here are three stars whose wins came as the biggest—and most pleasant—surprise.
Alberto Del Rio
On one hand, it was a major shock to see Dolph Ziggler lose to Alberto Del Rio. This was his first match since coming back from a concussion, and he hasn't had a lot of opportunity to establish himself as a legitimate champion. Why have him lose already?
The History of WWE brought up a very interesting point on Twitter, though.
Del Rio was fantastic as a face in his feud with the Big Show, but he's gotten really stale since the moment that feud ended. Most of that entertainment came from how awesome Show was. Take him out of the equation and you've got a bland babyface. Del Rio's feud with Jack Swagger was a major bust, despite the best efforts of Zeb Colter.
There's no doubting Del Rio's in-ring ability. He's one of the better wrestlers in the company; however, his mic skills can be majorly lacking at times, which limits his potential.
When you're a face, it's much harder to get the crowd on your side. You have to become a genuinely compelling character.
For heels, it's much easier to garner a crowd reaction. Just say some insulting things about the fans' hometown and you're golden.
If Del Rio becomes a heel again, he can embrace all of the things that make him an effective bad guy. Those things mostly revolve around his vast wealth and assertion that he's better than everyone. Of course, either of hose is miles better than what Del Rio is working with right now.
And Ziggler could work great as a babyface trying to overcome his concussion and win his title back.
It's safe to say that the build around Curtis Axel has been atrocious so far. He's been one-upped at every opportunity by Triple H and somehow turned the count-out into a finishing move. That's not the way you want to elevate a wrestler and create somebody the fans should take seriously.
Seeing WWE push a younger guy is great and all, but you have to wonder if Michael McGillicutty was the right choice. Only time will tell in that regard.
At the very least, winning the Intercontinental Championship gives him something new to do. Granted, the man who wins the intercontinental title seems to be relegated to the "lose against Sheamus/Randy Orton" part of the card on every Raw.
Maybe the company has something different in mind with Axel.
The way in which he won the match was good as well. Rather than attacking The Miz and trying to break up the Figure Four, Axel just went to pin a Wade Barrett screaming in pain and who couldn't use his legs to kick out of the pin. It was a somewhat unique way to end the match and made Axel look very cunning and intelligent.
Axel is a good in-ring wrestler, and with Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece, he could be going places finally.
The feud between AJ Lee and Kaitlyn looks to be one of the most compelling to come along the Divas division in years. Most rivalries devolve into the heel calling a very thin, athletic, healthy woman fat. Every once in a while, that could be effective, just not every single time.
With AJ and Kaitlyn, you've got something with layers that goes back more than a couple of weeks. This match had been brewing for months. There was already some anticipation for this match. Then, AJ's promo on Raw was golden and a great way to build sympathy toward Kaitlyn.
Just when you think Kaitlyn is going to get her revenge at the PPV, AJ wins and takes the last vestige of anything meaningful from her opponent. If WWE doesn't drop the ball, this feud could become very interesting in the coming weeks.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!