World Wrestling Entertainment's Payback pay-per-view was one that needed to deliver.
Television had been lackluster, the stories were nondescript and anticipation for the event was nonexistent as the broadcast hit the WWE Network airwaves. Only one match on the entire card was fresh and the marquee main events were rematches from last month's Extreme Rules.
For the most part, the event succeeded. John Cena and Bray Wyatt tore the house down with a brilliant Last Man Standing match while Evolution and The Shield wowed the Chicago fans with a great No Holds Barred Elimination bout.
The undercard was solid, if unspectacular, but the show as a whole was above average.
That does not mean the company did not make a few questionable booking decisions. Even Cena vs. Wyatt, the best match of the night, featured a few head-scratching choices.
On a night on which the company did more good than bad, let us play up the internet wrestling fan stereotype by dissecting the worst booking decisions from the Payback pay-per-view.
The Shield vs. Evolution Even Happened At All
In hindsight, The Shield vs. Evolution main event had absolutely no reason to happen.
Last month at Extreme Rules, the Hounds of Justice established their dominance by defeating the reunited Evolution in what some considered a major upset. In the weeks that followed, they were laid out on two separate occasions but more often than not, fended off attacks by Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista.
So after defeating Evolution and proving to be their superiors, they rolled into Chicago and...did the same thing all over again.
Evolution, a force of nature that should have provided Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins with a challenge unlike any other they had ever faced. Instead, they lost decisively in consecutive matches, leaving many to wonder what the point of a two-month rivalry was.
The story was essentially over on May 4 and limped along so that the creative team did not have to think of anything fresh, new or exciting for either of the trios to do elsewhere.
Bray Wyatt Loses
This is more about Wyatt losing than Cena winning. Given the story that has unfolded since February, the hero needed to vanquish the villain and that is exactly what happened at Payback.
The problem is that Wyatt has tried tearing down two of the WWE Universe's heroes in 2014 and he has failed on both occasions. If the objective is to expose Wyatt as a false prophet, then the booking makes sense.
If that is not the case, one has to wonder how long fans can be expected to buy into the character before they realize that he talks a lot but rarely wins. How seriously can they take Wyatt or anything he says when he cannot back it up between the ropes?
Wyatt could rebound nicely if he were to be entered into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture in time for SummerSlam or even captures the Money in the Bank briefcase in four weeks at the annual event. The company will have to be incredibly careful with how they book the Reaper of Souls going forward if they wish to maintain his heat and momentum.
Adding Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. RybAxel to the Card
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Brotherhood vs. RybAxel match that went on second during Sunday's pay-per-view. With that said, there was absolutely no valid reasoning for it to be on the card in the first place.
It only served to further a storyline that has not struck a chord with audiences to this point and ate up time that could have been added to two of the previously announced matches on the card. Big E vs. Rusev was a fun powerhouse match that could have gone another three or four minutes while Paige vs. Alicia Fox, which featured an interesting new character in the loose-cannon Fox, had their time cut to benefit the main events.
For what it was, the match easily could have been saved for hour three of Monday's Raw and still had the same affect it had on the Chicago crowd.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust had fallen into irrelevancy around WrestleMania and to this point, they have yet to recover. Splitting the team would be a great way to help rehabilitate the characters but that split could have been saved for Raw, SmackDown or even Main Event.
There were more deserving matches and Superstars who could have benefited from increased time Sunday night and nothing that happened in the last-minute bout can justify taking time away from other matches to write the next chapter in a story fans do not really care about at this point.
Rusev Rolls Over Big E
Of all of the matches deserving an encore, Big E vs. Rusev may be at the top of the list.
Sunday night, the massive competitors delivered a hard-hitting bout that hinted at an impressive chemistry between them. E provided Rusev with an opponent who could match every one of his athletic attributes and the crowd ate up the high-impact nature of the contest.
Rusev's win ended any chance the program has at continuing logically. E was not cheated out of a victory. Instead, he was overwhelmed by the better man and outside of fighting for pride, he has no reason to demand any sort of rematch.
There is no reason for a series of rematches and, considering the flashes of brilliance on display during Sunday's brief pay-per-view encounter, that is a shame.
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