WWE Payback 2020 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
For the second time in as many weeks, WWE presented a major pay-per-view, a follow-up to its SummerSlam spectacular called Payback.
Headlined by a titanic clash for the Universal Championship, and on the heels of a jaw-dropping end to SmackDown in which Roman Reigns revealed his allegiance with Paul Heyman, there were plenty of reasons to be intrigued by the event.
Did it answer the burning questions? Was a new champion crowned in the night's main event?
What did the outcomes mean for the Superstars involved as WWE heads into the final stretch of 2020?
Find out now with this recap of the August 30 extravaganza.
Sunday's match card:
- No Holds Barred Triple Threat match for the Universal Championship: Braun Strowman vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns
- WWE Women's Tag Team Championships: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Bayley and Sasha Banks
- Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton
- United States Championship: Apollo Crews vs. Bobby Lashley
- Rey and Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy
- Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin
- Big E vs. Sheamus
- Kickoff Show: Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan vs. The IIconics
Kickoff Show: The Riott Squad vs. The IIconics
A month of feuding culminated in the night's first match, a Kickoff Show contest pitting The IIconics' Billie Kay and Peyton Royce against the recently reunited Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan.
Kay sent Riott into Morgan's knees and momentarily seized control of the match. Riott and Morgan teased dissension, allowing Kay to deliver her Shades of Kay kick to the former. The heels grounded Riott and worked her over, targeting the midsection while taunting Morgan.
At one point, Morgan was knocked off the apron by the heels, who immediately blamed Riott for bumping her. A distraught Morgan wrestled with the idea for a bit while Kay and Royce shrieked at her. Riott delivered a step-up enzuigiri and finally made the tag to Morgan.
Liv exploded into the match, taking the fight to her opponents. A double-stomp spot on Royce appeared to have injured the Aussie, who audibly voiced her pain. Still, she partnered with Kay to deliver the Deja Vu...only for Morgan to break up the fall.
The Riott Squad uncorked their own double-team finisher, delivering a Codebreaker/Riott Kick combo to Kay for the win.
Riott and Morgan defeated The IIconics
The match was rarely pretty and featured its fair share of disjointed spots, but it was never about having a show-stealer. This was more about putting over the recovering relationship between Riott and Morgan and in that regard, it worked.
No matter what Kay and Royce did to try to create a schism, they endured and picked up the win.
With Bayley and Sasha Banks figuring to lose the women's tag titles later in the show, could the reunited Riott Squad battle for the gold sooner than later?
United States Championship Match: Apollo Crews vs. Bobby Lashley
The United States Championship Match kicked off the main portion of Sunday's show as Apollo Crews defended against the CEO of The Hurt Business, Bobby Lashley.
With MVP and Shelton Benjamin watching from ringside, champion and challenger engaged in some back-and-forth chain wrestling before Lashley turned to his power advantage. Crews answered with speed and agility, delivering a moonsault from the apron that wiped the challenger out on the floor.
Lashley regained control until an enzuigiri stunned him. Crews followed with a crossbody and a spinebuster. A standing moonsault earned Crews a near-fall as Lashley displayed more fight left in him. Crews momentarily gorilla pressed The All Mighty before unloading two impressive German suplexes. A frog splash followed but Lashley still kicked out.
The All Mighty created separation with a big spinebuster, then applied the Full Nelson for the win and title.
After the match, Crews attacked from behind but was cleared out by the heels. "I'm getting that title back!" he exclaimed as he made his way up the ramp.
Lashley defeated Crews to win the title
The match was solidly paced, featured some great power work from both men and was one of Crews' best performances to date.
There will be plenty who argue Crews should not have lost the title so quickly, just as management is building his star, but such an outcome puts him in position to chase the title and get more over with fans.
The post-match attack was questionable because it made him look almost cowardly as he jumped the new champion, then fled when attacked by the heels, but that is a creative misstep that can easily be fixed.
Hopefully, this is not the end of Crews' push because he is a performer who was gaining more confidence with every passing week.
Lashley, while impressive and a name in the industry, is on the back-end of his career. He should be utilized to help put Crews over and if the closing moments of the segment are any indication, that appears to be the direction things are heading.
Big E vs. Sheamus
Big E's journey to the top of the singles ranks in WWE continued Sunday night when he battled former world champion Sheamus in what promised to be a hard-hitting battle of powerhouses.
A methodical pace dominated early on as Big E seized control, pounding away at the exposed chest of The Celtic Warrior. An ill-fated splash on the ring apron didn't land and Sheamus gained the upper hand. He worked the left knee of Big E, looking to take the base away from the former powerlifter.
Sheamus followed up with the Irish Curse Backbreaker for a two-count. He applied a half crab, but Big E fought out of it and downed him with a uranage. The Irishman answered with a big shoulder block. He cut Big E's gyrations off and delivered an Alabama Slam for two.
Big E recovered and delivered a spear through the ropes, crashing to the floor with his opponent. Back in the ring, he set up for The Big Ending, but Sheamus slid out and applied a heel hook. The babyface fought out but Sheamus delivered a jumping knee for two.
Big E caught Sheamus with a powerbomb and finished him with the Big Ending for the win.
A fired-up Big E celebrated the win, approaching Corey Graves at ringside and saying: "Preach to the people! I'm ready!"
Big E defeated Sheamus
This was a great, heavy-hitting match.
Big E and Sheamus beat the hell out of each other and delivered a physical contest that made the former's win even more impressive. Faced with the challenge of a former world champion, Big E overcame a leg injury to earn the hard-fought win and move on in his journey to the top.
The fire the victor showed after the match is exactly what we need out of him and the type of emotion that will eventually earn him that world-title run he seeks.
Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin
King Corbin wasted little time taking the fight to Matt Riddle in the night's third match, flattening him with a clothesline during The Original Bro's entrance.
He grounded the former MMA competitor, but Riddle answered with a flurry of kicks and a kimura.
Corbin powered out and slammed his opponent to the mat, but The Original Bro responded with a sleeper, looking for the submission win.
Every time Riddle tried to mount a sustainable offense, Corbin cut him off.
Riddle finally unloaded a kick that helped him mount a comeback. He scored a near-fall off a running knee and showed some real intensity late, undoubtedly the result of Corbin's comments regarding his home life earlier in the day.
Ailed by an apparent rib injury suffered following one of Riddle's stiff kicks, Corbin still managed to put his opponent down with Deep Six for a two-count.
However, Riddle caught Corbin with another kick to the midsection, felled him with the Bro to Sleep and scored the win with the Floating Bro.
Riddle defeated Corbin
This was another good, physical match that was just a step below its predecessor.
Corbin either sold the life out of his ribs/liver area or was legitimately hurt near the end of the match. He still performed up to the level of his competition, turning in one of his better performances of 2020. Riddle also did a fantastic job of selling.
More importantly, The Original Bro showcased the sort of emotion you must be able to portray if you hope to be a star of substance in WWE. He was intense, and it helped the overall story and quality of the match.
The beatdown by Corbin that ensued as Riddle walked through the curtain backstage suggests the issues between the two are far from over. Whether this story has that kind of longevity remains to be seen.
Women's Tag Team Title Match: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Golden Role Models
The Women's Tag Team Championships were up for grabs as the tag team partners who hate each other, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, challenged tag team partners who like each other but are growing increasingly resentful of each other, Sasha Banks and Bayley.
The Queen of Spades punished The Legit Boss early and also resumed her beating on the SmackDown women's champion.
Bayley wisely sent Baszler into Jax, knocking her off the ring apron and potentially injuring her knee.
With Baszler down, Jax wiped out The Role Model on the floor, then ragdolled Banks into the guardrail multiple times. The Irresistible Force earned the tag from The Queen of Spades and unloaded on Bayley, scoring a near-fall.
Jax missed a leg drop and Bayley teased a knee bar. Jax escaped, dragged Bayley across the ring and tagged Baszler into the match. The former NXT women's champion scored a near-fall and drove Banks into the mat.
The Boss fought out of a powerbomb and drove Jax face-first into the mat. Bayley followed with a top-rope elbow drop and Banks with a frog splash for two. They backdropped Jax, but Baszler entered legally. She applied a Muta Lock to Banks and the Karafuji Clutch to Bayley at the same time.
Using The Boss' arm to her own advantage, The Queen of Spades forced a tapout from Bayley for the win and titles.
Baszler and Jax defeated Bayley and Banks to win the titles
The match wasn't particularly good. It lacked structure, was disjointed more than once and had little emotion because fans had no reason to cheer the challengers or want to see them succeed.
With only a week to work with, their journey to the titles was essentially nonexistent so there was a total absence of anticipation for their win.
Bayley tapping, thus costing Banks her last title, is sure to spark the eventual breakup, and rightfully so. That story has been teased, delayed and teased again so much that fans deserve to see those two go head-to-head for SmackDown supremacy.
Kudos to WWE Creative for booking Baszler as a dominant force in the finish. It comes a bit late, but she looked like the badass force of nature she should have been the entirety of her main roster run.
Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton
Keith Lee faced the biggest test of his fledgling main roster career as he battled a red-hot Randy Orton, seeking revenge for the brutal assault by The Viper that left his good friend, Drew McIntyre, with a hairline fracture of the jaw during Monday's Raw.
A blind charge into the corner was hardly the way to achieve it as Lee smacked his shoulder into the ring post, though. Orton followed up with a side suplex onto the announce table before grounding him back in the ring.
The Limitless One exercised his power advantage, throwing The Viper out of the ring and delivering a side suplex onto the table of his own.
Always alert, Orton caught Lee coming in with a kick to the chest and downed him with a draping DDT.
The former NXT double champion recovered, powered out of an RKO and pinned Orton clean in the center of the ring with a Spirit Bomb.
Lee defeated Orton
And that is how you create a new star.
WWE Creative put Lee over as strongly as it has anyone this year, following up on his extraordinary performance last November at Survivor Series with a clean and undisputed victory over Orton—the same Orton who is potentially gearing up for a WWE Championship win.
And he did it in convincing fashion. It wasn't a fluke. He beat Orton as definitively as possible, announcing to the world that he is the next big thing in WWE.
For a company that routinely manages to botch the introduction of a new face, what a relief it was to see it get this one right. Big things are popping for Lee, who has instantly become a major player for Monday nights.
Rey and Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins and Murphy
With payback appropriately in mind, Dominik and Rey Mysterio wasted little time taking the fight to Seth Rollins and Murphy in the penultimate match of Sunday's card.
The rookie competitor infuriated and frustrated the heels early, utilizing lightning-quick offense to keep both off guard, then teaming with his father to stun Murphy.
"Get your punk-ass in here!" Rey demanded of The Monday Night Messiah.
The future Hall of Famer would regret it as the heels halted their opponents' momentum and worked him over, then turned their attention to his son. Rollins and Murphy worked over Dominik, with their well-oiled machine overwhelming the inexperienced competitor.
"C'mon, kid," Rollins taunted. The trash talk was the motivation Dominik needed, and he wiped out the opposition at ringside and created just enough separation to tag Rey into the match. The veteran unloaded months of frustration and anguish on The Messiah and then delivered a moonsault for a near-fall.
Murphy broke up another two-count, only to eat a big DDT from Dominik. Rollins delivered the sling blade to the younger Mysterio, only to walk into a seated senton from Rey. The Messiah recovered and caught Rey with a Codebreaker in midair, then rocked him with a side kick.
Rollins sent Mysterio into the barricade and set up for a double-team maneuver with Murphy. The Aussie caught Rollins, setting in motion a series that concluded with Dominik earning the win with a Frog Splash.
Dominik and Rey Mysterio defeated Rollins and Murphy
This was a super fun tag team match and a very good one to boot.
Rollins' desire to punish Rey led to the miscommunication and allowed father and son Mysterio to pick up the elusive win over The Monday Night Messiah.
Rollins appeared extremely disappointed, dismissive even, of Murphy in the wake of the defeat. Might his actions come back to bite him on Monday's Raw given the fact that he has to face Mysterio one last time?
In only his second match, Dominik displayed the sort of confidence you expect from a much more seasoned performer. He is going to be a huge star one day, and one can only imagine how emotional it was to share this moment with his dad.
Triple Threat No Holds Barred Match for the Universal Championship
Braun Strowman could not contain his hatred for The Fiend, and he attacked the universal champion during his entrance. But the masked madman of WWE endured and delivered a uranage that drove his rival through the announce table.
However, there was still no sign of third competitor, Roman Reigns, at this point.
Alexa Bliss watched via monitor in the back, twirling her pigtails while Michael Cole hopped the guardrail to avoid The Fiend.
The champion retrieved a giant mallet from under the ring and, after some back-and-forth, utilized it on The Monster Among Men. The Fiend screamed in twisted pleasure as he punished his opponent.
The champion fought Strowman up the entrance ramp, where the challenger recovered and bulldozed The Fiend through a table. Back in the ring, he met The Monster up top for a big superplex that demolished the ring.
With both men down, Roman Reigns nonchalantly made his way to the ring with Paul Heyman by his side, signing the contract as he did so. The Big Dog tried to win the match by pinning both competitors, but he could not keep either down for three.
Reigns lit up Strowman with a barrage of steel chairs, but The Monster refused to stay down; he grabbed the chair but The Fiend caught him with the Mandible Claw. Reigns escaped, blasted Strowman with the spear and won the Universal Championship.
The Big Dog celebrated his win with Heyman as the show went off the air.
Reigns defeated Strowman and The Fiend to win the title
Ignoring the fact that signing a contract midway through a match is probably illegal, this was a perfect way to put over the heel persona of Reigns.
With Heyman's guidance, he took the most underhanded approach by waiting until he saw an opening created by his brawling opponents and sneakily absconded with the title.
It was a great bit of booking, though Reigns' titantron visual and music need an upgrade if we are going to go full steam ahead with this turn.
The other development of note was Bliss watching intently as The Fiend controlled the match early. She is clearly going the way of Harley Quinn, and we should all be here for that. There are, after all, far worse storylines for WWE to rip off than that modern-day classic.
Overall, this was an explosive finish to a pay-per-view event that pleasantly surprised. There were no skippable matches, everyone seemed to be working hard, and the result was a two-and-a-half-hour good time.