The Real Winners and Losers from 2020 WWE PaybackAugust 31, 2020
The Real Winners and Losers from 2020 WWE Payback
Payback was an awkward major WWE show, coming just a week after SummerSlam. The card was thrown together with a few big matches but also many forgettable ones on paper.
However, the stars prevailed. The immensely talented roster brought a night of epic contests that never faltered. Everyone came in on fire, and WWE pulled off an improbable week of back-to-back pay-per-view home runs.
The individuals who shined were those who walked away with their hands raised but only after bringing their best to the ring from the opening bell.
Keith Lee did the unthinkable and toppled Randy Orton from his perch; Shayna Baszler made the two most dominant women in WWE, Bayley and Sasha Banks, tap out together; and Big E emphatically delivered against Sheamus.
The losers of the night were those hoping for a change. Apollo Crews thought he had his future locked, but Bobby Lashley took his United States Championship from him. Fans also watched Matt Riddle and King Corbin continue their rivalry in a match that will likely be forgotten.
It was all about making an impact, and more often than not, talent delivered on that to establish themselves as winners.
Winner: Keith Lee
Keith Lee walked into this match as a major underdog in everyone's mind bar his.
Randy Orton certainly felt confident early, but he was not familiar with the main roster newcomer. It showed as he got countered and ultimately planted with a Spirit Bomb for a surprising upset win.
The Viper sold the shock of this victory, yet no simple reaction quite explains how monumental this victory was. The Limitless One defeated Orton clean as a whistle in arguably the best period of The Viper's 18-year career in just six-and-a-half minutes.
This may set up Lee immediately for a WWE Championship opportunity, and shows how much faith WWE has in him. Despite misgivings about his entrance theme and updated gear, he got the victory when he needed it.
It would have made complete sense for Orton to win. He is in line for a WWE title opportunity and defeated everyone in his path since Backlash. However, he can afford a loss without any consequences.
You only get to debut once, and Lee made the most of his first pay-per-view appearance. He will now be established for the long haul as one of the top guys in WWE.
This was the night of The Limitless One.
Loser: Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews knew he was coming in at a disadvantage, so he worked harder than he ever has to take down Bobby Lashley.
MVP and Shelton Benjamin distracted him a few times, though, allowing The All Mighty to recover. Lashley trapped Crews in the Full Lashley for a tapout.
This was a predictable but potentially dangerous result for Crews. He had been on a roll as United States champion, but he was still learning how to deliver in big title matches. His clash with Lashley showed his potential and need for more opportunities.
Lashley is the easier star to get behind for WWE. He is proven and has had success as a titleholder before. He needed a big victory after a few disappointing losses, but Crews needed the victory more.
At this point, it's not certain if Crews will remain in the spotlight. He was struggling for TV time as champ. Without gold, he might disappear again. That would be a shame at such a crucial time in his career.
WWE's handling of the aftermath will determine the future of the outgoing U.S. champion. He could rise above this one loss, or he might never recover. That makes this a big loss for him.
Winner: Big E
Big E put on a show against Sheamus, only falling behind the former world champion when he took too much time to have fun.
The New Day member's energetic power was too much for The Celtic Warrior, and he dodged a Brogue Kick and connected on the Big Ending for the win.
This was a big performance from Big E. He looked like a star against one of the most reliable performers in WWE. It came off better than most recent title matches. It clearly was important for him to win, and he put his all into a top-notch performance.
Big E has long been one of the best untapped talents in the company. However, opportunity kept him in New Day over attempting to see how far he could go. Now, though, he is showing up. He shines as a singles star in the same way he did in tag team wrestling.
Despite his up-and-down career, Sheamus is a multiple-time world champion. His performances over the years have been heightened when working with top stars, and this was an elevated performance from The Celtic Warrior.
It would be shocking if Big E wasn't a champion within this year. He is completely ready. The promos he is cutting, mixed with his performances in the ring, rival some of the best in the business.
Losers: Anyone Hoping Matt RIddle vs. King Corbin Would End at Payback
Matt Riddle finally seemed to put his rivalry to bed with an emphatic victory over King Corbin. He connected on the Bro to Sleep and Floating Bro for the win despite taking noticeable punishment from his opponent.
However, Corbin laid out Riddle backstage as he tried to celebrate.
The King and The Original Bro brought their all to this match, and it was better than many of Corbin's recent performances. But it was still a flat effort despite the spotlight, and the two men don't have much more story left to tell.
This may have felt like a natural conclusion to the rivalry, but it isn't done yet. The only story left is Corbin's promise of a "king's ransom" to whoever took out The Original Bro. Shorty G could not deliver on that, and this would have been the right time to bring in someone new.
Instead, this story seems set to go on for weeks, perhaps months. No one cares enough about Corbin to help him beyond Shorty, who got nothing out of it. Riddle would do well to escape this rivalry sooner rather than later.
This hasn't been a fan-favorite storyline. Add in recent comments by Corbin about Riddle's family life, and it all spells a recipe for disaster if it goes much longer.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Nia Jax walked into this match hungry but uncertain how to work with Shayna Baszler. Luckily, desire and talent prevailed for the babyface team.
After The Irresistible Force survived the onslaught of Bayley and Sasha Banks, The Queen of Spades trapped them both in a modified Kirifuda Clutch for the tapout.
This was an unbelievable performance from Baszler. She not only led the action whenever she was in the ring against two of the best in the business, but she also put over for it with the coolest finish of the entire night.
Baszler has been established as a submission specialist, but it rarely came into play on Raw. In this match, she was showing it off at every moment she was in the ring. She even managed to look good as a team with Jax, despite her partner's awkward transitions throughout.
This may be an unusual pairing and the story may lead to them splitting fast, but what matters is that The Queen of Spades has overcome the always-awkward NXT transition. She is now a champion and was put over against the two most dominant women in the business at the same time.
At the end of the day, individual victories don't matter as much as individual performances. Baszler got everything in one match, stealing the show and taking the next step that should lead to singles gold sooner rather than later.