WWE Payback 2015 Results: Biggest Highlights and Low Points
The results from WWE's Payback 2015 pay-per-view are in, so it's time for us to take a look at what transpired.
This event was a rushed job, to say the least, being crammed into the relatively short time between Extreme Rules and Money in the Bank. Things became even more crowded with the addition of Elimination Chamber on May 31.
As such, WWE didn't exactly put a lot of effort into building up new feuds and storylines, resulting in a whole show that mostly consisted of rematches, with one of those bouts being the fourth consecutive time two people have faced each other on PPV.
Only three championships were on the line, and any sense of the rest of the card's outcome having any real importance wasn't exactly established.
Going into this event, it was easy to be underwhelmed, but did WWE turn things around and end up giving the audience more positives than negatives?
Let's take a look at which segments were as disappointing as expected and which ones surpassed those expectations by breaking down the biggest highlights and low points of the evening, presented in chronological order.
Highlight: Payback 2015 Kickoff Show
It's always a good thing when WWE decides to put another match on the card instead of just eating up more time by showing rerun after rerun of the promos we've seen a million times.
The extra addition was a rather simple match between R-Truth and Stardust, which wasn't so good as to turn a lot of heads, but it was a definite bonus in comparison to the alternative.
On top of this, if both of these men are involved in the Elimination Chamber match for the vacated Intercontinental Championship on May 31, it made sense to put them on the Payback card in some fashion to help establish that they are worthy of that spot.
Then, the previously advertised match between the Ascension and the Mega Powers parody of Curtis "Axelmania" Axel and Damien "Macho Mandow" Sandow took place, allowing for some silly fun to be on the card.
It's a shame the match didn't go on longer, but having Axel and Sandow come out and do their impressions of Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan were worth the segment alone, and it will be interesting to see what happens with this tag team in the future.
It also made sense for the Ascension to win, as they are obviously the more serious team and could use some victories to get back on track and in the hunt for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
All in all, the pre-show accomplished everything it was supposed to, so there isn't any room to complain about it.
Highlight: Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus
At Extreme Rules, WWE neglected to have a more hardcore-style gimmick attached to the match between Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus, opting for something more on the ridiculous side. Even worse, the rules of the match were thrown out afterward, rendering it pretty much moot.
Going into Payback, it was easy to be down on seeing another rematch with nothing else to offer, but this ended up being quite entertaining.
The two kept a fast pace going for the majority of the fight and both looked very competitive and strong.
Ziggler had a lot of spunk and was using his speed and intelligence to his advantage, and Sheamus relied on his power game, as it should be.
It was nice to see the culmination of the Kiss Me Arse stipulation take place here, with Ziggler forcing Sheamus to go along with it and the Irishman then washing the taste out of his mouth with a bottle of water.
There was a good story being told with Sheamus injuring Ziggler's knee, following it up later on with a Texas Cloverleaf and eventually busting the Showoff open before the damage was too much for him to withstand.
A Brogue Kick to Ziggler's bloodied face was a perfect way to end this rock-solid match.
Highlight: WWE Tag Team Championship 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
As expected, two of the best tag teams in the company today with a great track record of putting on great performances were able to have an awesome match for the WWE Tag Team Championships.
This was a textbook example of a balancing act, as Tyson Kidd and Kofi Kingston were the agility and Big E and Cesaro were the power for their respective teams.
There were spots to exhibit these aspects for all four men. In particular, Kidd's dropkick on a flying Kingston and the feats of strength from Cesaro and Big E catching and slamming each other were impressive.
Then, flying in the face of their roles, there was also a great spot with Big E spearing Cesaro through the ropes to the outside.
Another funny little moment during the match took place after the first fall, when Xavier Woods attempted to invoke the Freebird Rule, in which three members of a stable can operate as a tag team. He wasn't allowed to replace either Kingston or Big E, but it was a nice little wink to a good attempt at cheating.
Having this be a best-of-three scenario made it even better, as it allowed more time for these guys to do what they do best.
The end of the match maintained the New Day's heel personality, with their cheating to retain their titles, which is perfect, considering how hot that team is right now.
The crowd chanted "this is awesome" twice during this match—and for good reason.
Highlight: Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt
While both Ryback and Bray Wyatt are entertaining characters, neither is exactly the most versatile in the ring and the one to depend upon to carry a match. They can have good fights now and again, but normally when their opponent is better than they are.
Naturally, it could have been assumed that these two would end up having nothing more than a slow, boring match, but they were able to put more energy into it and compensate.
Both Ryback and Wyatt had moments when they shined, such as when Wyatt tossed Ryback with relative ease or hit his senton from the apron. The Big Guy wasn't lacking in power, either, and lost in a way that still keeps his credibility up.
As with the match between Ziggler and Sheamus, there was a body part that was singled out and worked on until the end, with Ryback's ribs being the focal point this time around.
With the help of an exposed turnbuckle, Wyatt picked up the win he needed and Ryback maintained his value as well.
Following the tag team titles match was a difficult task, but they pulled it off, and it would be very interesting to see some sort of No Disqualification match between these two in the future.
Low Point: United States Championship 'I Quit' Match
The inherent problem with the "I Quit" stipulation is the time given to the referee asking if each man wants to end the match.
When done well, the action can bookend those parts so there doesn't seem to be much of a lag, but when done poorly, the match becomes so slowly paced it is boring.
Unfortunately, this was a case of the latter. The match consisted of one or two moves from Rusev before John Cena refused to quit. Rinse and repeat a couple of dozen times and you've got the entire layout of the segment.
Fans have expressed their distaste for the storyline of Super Cena never giving up and being beaten down by a monster before coming back out of nowhere at the end to win, and this was that to a T.
It's sad that Lana was at times more interesting to the crowd than the action that was taking place in the ring, considering how she was doing nothing pretty much throughout.
Cena's open challenges have been significantly better than this on a regular basis despite these two having three other matches to iron out the kinks and figure out how to work a better match together.
There were even times when planned spots just failed, such as a botch when a table was clearly meant to be set up for an Attitude Adjustment but collapsed beforehand with a weak nudge. They did their best to compensate with an Alabama Slam as a replacement, but that was also less than impressive.
Something WWE has never been able to do convincingly are spots involving pyrotechnics, and that happened here as well, with an Attitude Adjustment onto a crash pad that somehow leading to a few fireworks going off near it.
On the good side, both men looked strong. On the bad side, it took forever to illustrate that point, and we already knew that going into this match, so it wasn't a statement that needed to be reiterated.
Now that this feud is over and done with, hopefully Cena's next feud will be more on the positive side and won't be a drag like this match was.
Low Point: The Bella Twins vs. Naomi and Tamina Snuka
All four of the women involved in this match are more than talented enough to put on a very solid match, but sadly, that was not exactly the case here.
More than likely, it was a result of being rushed, since this felt as though it was given less time than it needed because the United States Championship match probably ran a little too long.
That's unfortunate, because normally, rushing a Divas match leads to things being a bit too hectic and messy.
These two teams working together makes a lot of sense, and there's still quite a bit that WWE can do with this feud, but there was absolutely nothing separating this from a standard match on Monday Night Raw.
There are never any highlights during something that is kept as basic as possible. Once you've been a fan long enough to know how WWE likes to outline such contests, it just ends up being bland and easy to predict.
Here's hoping the trend of Divas tag team matches on pay-per-views doesn't continue at Money in the Bank and the title itself is defended instead.
Middle of the Road: King Barrett vs. Neville
Whenever Bad News Barrett and Neville get together in the ring, it seems as though they have great chemistry and put on entertaining matches.
That was the same here, but the downside was the booking of the finish.
There are almost never any circumstances when being counted out is an acceptable end to a pay-per-view bout, and it makes even less sense to do this and then have a segment afterward that feels like what the end of the match should have been anyway.
Neville defeated King Barrett, who then proceeded to re-enter the ring and receive a Red Arrow and a broken scepter for his efforts. Why not just have Neville pin Barrett after a Red Arrow?
Whether this is a highlight or a low point most likely depends on whether you think the ending ruined it or was a negligible element in the overall assessment.
Highlight: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Fatal 4-Way Match
It wasn't flawless, but the main event was worthy of being the final match of the card and was certainly the fight with the biggest star power involved.
The start of the match was a flurry of offense that unfortunately hit a rough patch once Kane, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury got involved.
For a while, the crowd was dead and seemed to have no real interest in watching the Devil's Favorite Demon dismantle Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns at a slower pace than how this segment began.
Thankfully, things picked up and the audience woke up when there was a momentary reunion of the Shield, as Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns triple powerbombed Orton onto the commentary table.
Of course, that reunion was short-lived, as Ambrose and Reigns turned right back to beating on the champion. From then on, there were no more parts that saw the energy sucked from the crowd.
Teasing a Shield reformation was probably the highlight for most people in regard to this match, but for the most part, everything that happened thereafter was entertaining and shouldn't be forgotten.
For a pay-per-view built entirely on rematches and the laziest way to build toward an event by just keeping the same feuds going from before, Payback ended up being a bigger success than it could have been.
What were your favorite and least favorite parts of the evening? Does anything stand out to you as the best moment? How would you rate this event on a scale of one to 10?
Tell us you review of WWE Payback 2015 in the comments section below!
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.