WWE Payback 2014 can't just be a remix of the violent song that was Extreme Rules.
With two of the event's marquee matchups being rematches, there's a risk of underwhelming fans by way of repetition. Rather than just echo the success of the last show, WWE has to add narrative variations and surprises to make Payback as memorable as Extreme Rules.
Evolution is battling The Shield again. Bray Wyatt and John Cena will collide once more.
In the case of Wyatt and Cena's latest battle, WWE would be wise to avoid the pitfalls it fell into last time. When fans are wondering why the little-people comedy match on the pre-show was more entertaining than a headlining bout, there's a problem.
@thewadekeller I honestly thought the "weeLC" match was better than Cena/Wyatt. I don't know what to do with that.— Joe Bond (@Joe_bnd) May 5, 2014
The focus on The Shield vs. Evolution match at Payback isn't about correcting things.
Their six-man war was the night's best effort, a collection of stunning moments with an engaging energy churning throughout. This time around, the best bet is for the story to advance. Another thrill ride of a match will be great, but revealing something new about either team would make this more than just a secondary sequel.
More Than Just a Win
The Shield and Evolution will have an impossible task of trying to follow near perfection.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via ProFightDB.com, rated their Extreme Rules match 4.5 out of 5 stars. Short of a perfect five-star rating, their follow-up bout will feel like a bit of a letdown.
How can the six foes amp up the intensity any further? How can Seth Rollins excite more than he did with his jump from high in the stands?
(NSFW Note: Video contains brief profanity from an excited fan.)
Rather than just to outdo that first meeting in terms of big spots, WWE would be wise to zero in on the subplots.
Triple H barked at The Shield on Monday's Raw and singled out Roman Reigns. The Game promised that things would be different, that he and his crew would take down The Shield one member at a time. His plan is to make an example out of the powerhouse.
He said that "Roman Reigns will be the member of The Shield who does not come back from Payback."
This is a new, intriguing element.
Whether that means Evolution will somehow manage to tear Reigns from The Hounds of Justice or will simply spend the entire match trying to do so, it's a fresh addition to a buzzing bout. Conflict between Shield members, Evolution falling apart thanks to failure or some kind of betrayal from any of the other men will elevate it.
With as much talent as there is stepping into the ring, fans will be assured of a great match. A shocking story on top of that is what WWE should strive for, though.
More Wyatt, Less Family
Even in defeat, Cena looked like the stronger gladiator when these two met inside a steel cage at Extreme Rules.
It took constant interference from Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, as well as the help of a choir boy with the voice of a demon, to take down Cena. At WrestleMania, Cena got his win all by his lonesome.
Wyatt can be made a star through this feud. He can be made to look like a monster capable of taking the world title and dominating the WWE. That can't happen if he depends so heavily on his bearded brethren at Payback.
This is a chance to bolster Wyatt's resume in a way only a clean win over Cena can. As a man who has won more world championships than everyone not named Ric Flair, Cena can handle the loss.
Here is an opportunity to elevate a new man into WWE's headlining tier. Pasting asterisks next to Wyatt's win has far less power than making him the rare wrestler who can fell the company's golden boy.
WWE can't go with the same convoluted booking technique from Extreme Rules either.
The Steel Cage match dragged because it was overrun with ways to keep Cena's Superman aura alive while giving Wyatt a win. The cage, designed to keep intruders out, didn't do its job. The stage got crowded quickly.
The clash at Payback would be far better served to focus on the man and the fang-bearing beast chasing him.
It should be violent, intense and more definitive than round two of this rivalry. There can certainly still be a story here, but letting the two warriors go at each other with less busy surroundings would allow for them to create the best match of the series.
Wyatt's SummerSlam match against Kane failed to impress partly because of Rowan and Harper taking away from The Eater of Worlds. When WWE let Wyatt face Daniel Bryan in a mostly isolated showdown, the result was one of 2014's best matches.
While The Shield and Evolution's match calls for some added complication, a simpler approach will better the Wyatt vs. Cena match and Payback as a whole.