WWE Payback 2014 Review: Biggest Stars of the Night
WWE's Payback 2014 pay-per-view was an odd mess of a card in both good ways and bad.
Without a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, there was more of an opportunity for wrestlers to impress and step up to the challenge.
However, at a quick glance, it's easy to be disappointed with the people who were wrestling.
With the exceptions of John Cena, Evolution and The Shield, there appeared to be a lack of star power.
This was a chance for established stars to validate their standings and for everyone else to prove that they deserved higher spots.
Which people came out victorious and made a name for themselves?
Who ended up stealing the show and ensuring that the fans will be talking about them tomorrow?
It's time to review the biggest stars of the evening.
4. John Cena
As if anyone had any doubts, John Cena came out victorious in his match against Bray Wyatt.
This feud would have been relegated to the tertiary main event spot if a world title defense could take place, but without it, it was upgraded one spot above that.
Because of this, Cena's win means more and could possibly lead to a potential title match down the line.
The entire point of Cena's character has always been to keep up the fight and to never back down.
He stayed true to this and—as far as WWE's creative team is concerned—gave his fans an amazing moment with this win.
Despite the reaction from the crowd, he is undoubtedly one of the main focal points on every single show.
For years, there hasn't been a single pay-per-view where Cena appeared and wasn't justified as an A-list Superstar, and it is unlikely that that will stop anytime soon.
3. CM Punk
Despite not appearing on the show for even one second, nor being a part of WWE television in months, more attention was paid to CM Punk at Payback than many stars who were there.
Beforehand, many people in the WWE Universe hoped Punk would return at the Chicago event.
During several matches, the crowd chanted for his name whether it made sense or not.
Paul Heyman made it a point to reference him during Cesaro's entrance.
Stephanie McMahon had quite possibly the line of the night, calling out the fact that he quit and encouraging Daniel Bryan to do the same.
Punk's absence ended up making more of an impact on this show than the majority of the performers, who tried their hardest.
Evolution absolutely dominated for the most part in the main event of the show.
Each chair shot was an exhibition of how they are better than everyone else on the roster—at least in their own minds.
But there is also the added fact that this was the true selling point to the night, the match most people were probably interested in watching.
Without Evolution, Payback would have had virtually nothing going for it.
John Cena has his numerous followers, and there were certainly people excited for each and every match, but there is a reason why this match went on last—and it isn't just to have some babyfaces win to end the night.
Evolution were booked to fill the void that was created from the lack of a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match and did the job admirably.
1. The Shield
What separates these men from Evolution and puts them higher up on this list is the fact that they took more of a beating and still ended up winning.
It is impressive enough to win a main event, let alone defeat three stars such as Evolution.
But to have a clean sweep and not take a single pinfall in an elimination match adds even more clout to that victory.
Out of everyone whom WWE has invested in for the past three years, it's hard to argue that The Shield aren't paying off the most in return.
They are over with the crowd and are putting on solid matches, and both their popularity and performance has only increased over time.
Who do you think were the biggest stars of the night? Is anyone missing from this list?
Go ahead and leave us your thoughts in the comments below!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.