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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: WWE Payback Report - A New Blueprint for Last Man Standing?
By The Doc
Jun 1, 2014 - 11:50:55 PM

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The Snowman is a genius

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What was your favorite match from Payback?

The aura that often permeates the product when the proverbial guard is changing continued tonight…

Match 1: Sheamus defeated Cesaro in 12-minutes (*** ¼) (First and foremost, these two guys had a very good match to start the show. They came out motivated and took advantage of a hot crowd to go a bit beyond what we’d normally see on TV. There is a problem that I’ve noticed, though. The lengthier Raw broadcasts have allowed for longer TV matches for mid-carders. Consequently, matches like this one feel less like something special for PPV and more like something we’ve already seen before. Cesaro and Sheamus work quite well together and their hard-hitting styles make for a helluva combo. I looked forward to the match and it delivered, but I never felt like it got much beyond what they’d offered at a lesser caliber event. On a storyline note, they did well to protect Cesaro in loss. One would think him to be a top contender to win the Money in the Bank contract. On a crowd reaction note, I really thought that Sheamus was get jeered quite a bit more)

Match 2: RybackAxel defeated Cody Rhodes and Goldust in 8-minutes (** ¼) (I’d echo the sentiment about the TV match “gear” for this bout. It was what it needed to be, though, in getting across that Cody is conflicted. Any spotlight on that talented gentleman is good for business)

Match 3: Rusev defeated Big E in 4-minutes (* ½) (A quite effective outing for both men. Big E worked his butt off in those four minutes and it gave Rusev his best and most competitive match to date. I applaud Big E, who if nothing else has gained experience and seasoning during his initial stint on the main roster; I say initial because I’m hoping he goes away for awhile and comes back repackaged with a new character. Rusev is a damn good athlete, has a gorgeous blonde valet that appears to have “it,” and has a kick ass theme song. If it were not for those three items, I’d have written off this gimmick by now. As it is, I’m reserving final judgment despite my general thought process that the anti-American schtick just flat out doesn’t work in the modern USA)

Match 4: Bo Dallas and Kofi Kingston wrestled to a no-contest (n/a) (Kane came out and destroyed Kofi before the match got underway, leaving Bo to one of the weakest appearances that he’s made in his first 10 days back on the main roster. I found this to be counterproductive)

Match 5: Bad News Barrett defeated Rob Van Dam in 9-minutes (***) (The crowd reaction that I expected for Sheamus and Cesaro was earned by BNB and RVD, who appeared to be trying to have that “special” match I referenced in the Sheamus-Cesaro review and, subsequently, made their match feel like more than just something we’d already seen on TV. The audience provided a nice boost, so much so that I gave the match the 3-star rating. Barrett was crazy over, as was Van Dam. I think it speaks very highly of Wade that he got such a crowd popping match out of RVD at this stage of Mr. Monday Night’s career. Only wrestlers that I had previously deemed “ring generals” had been able to do it. Not even Cesaro could manage it. Barrett knocked this out of the park. Helluva match given the sub-10-minute time allotted)

Daniel Bryan’s segment with Stephanie McMahon was a valuable addition to the PPV (Stephanie McMahon has become such an awesome heel. Dare I state that she’s just as good as her dad was when he surprised the wrestling world and became one of the greatest villains of all-time. She does such a tremendous job in this current role. I’m not sure if it’s going to work when she has to engage some other babyface, but maybe she won’t have to. It will be awhile before the condescending attitude toward Daniel Bryan gets old. Brie quit instead of getting fired, then slapped the smirk off of Steph’s face, so it should be interesting to see where we go from here. Bryan is still champion, though. That’s a good thing, Yes?!)

Match 6: John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt in a 24-minute Last Man Standing match (**** ½) (Well, look what stole the show! Last month, I had Cena-Wyatt pegged for Match of the Night honors at Extreme Rules and it was Shield-Evolution that stole the show. The script was flipped for Payback, with Wyatt and Cena having what should be used from here on as the blueprint for how to have an effective Last Man Standing match in the PG era and may have re-written the “how to” guide for Last Man Standing matches altogether. The stipulation has often made its combatants look silly for their slowing the pace before any real battle has taken place. That has always been the biggest knock on the LMS match, whether blood and violence was WWE sanctioned or not. What Cena and Wyatt did tonight was throw that old pacing rulebook out the window. They went full throttle for the first twenty minutes of the match and, even in their personal moments of pre-finish relaxation at ringside, the Usos, Rowan, and Harper were there to pick up the slack and add a few more breathtaking moments. The pace was what set this match apart. Unlike all of its predecessors, they just never let up. Our intelligence was not insulted by a bevy of eye-rolling near-ten counts. It was full of seven or eight counts long into the second half of the match. They did manage to maintain the one good thing that happened during the last several years’ worth of PG-rated versions of the gimmick: a creative finish. Cena was made to look like the cunning veteran in how he kept Bray from getting back up again. All match long, Wyatt had been like a monster movie villain – there was nothing Cena could physically do to him to make him stay down for the count. I’m not sure if this feud is over or not, but it began as an attack on Cena’s kayfabe legacy. If it is over, it ended with a truly legacy-enhancing match for Cena and the latest legacy-foundation builder for Bray)

Match 7: Paige defeated Alicia Fox (*) (I’m sorry, but I just can’t watch NXT women’s matches and then go back and watch something like this. Why even bother giving women the platform on NXT to showcase the full range of their potential if there’s no hope of them ever showing it to the broader audience? I had absolutely no interest in this match, all due respect to both ladies)

Match 8: The Shield defeated Evolution in 30-minutes (*** ¾) (I found this match to be very difficult to rate, critically. As a match that was designed to make Evolution look strong, but to make The Shield look even stronger, then it was a rousing success and deserves all the credit in the world for how to effectively book a match that makes a viewer want to see the bad guys lose to legitimately appealing good guys. The combination of a few things prevented me from heaping all sorts of praise on it, though. One was out of the wrestlers’ hands and that was the feed cut in and out on me three times during the match, which is the primary reason why I was so hesitant two months ago to watch Mania on the WWE Network. I had my first real issues with glitches tonight and its mild annoyance earlier in the night was magnified during the one match I really wanted to see on this card. Another thing that was that crowd was uncharacteristically quiet. The star of the night was Bray Wyatt and the best supporting star was Bad News Barrett; Chicago made that, at least to me, abundantly clear. What does it say for Evolution that there was not a massive series of chants in their favor? Time will tell, but I expected that to be one of the key features of this bout’s entertainment factor. It was not. The crowd woke up, here and there, but it was an underwhelming response to something that presented as such a big deal. The final thing was the booking of the match, which reminded me of Triple H’s main-events from 2003-2005 that were too methodical to break the pattern of a tiring crowd. I went back and watched the Extreme Rules 6-man tag between these trios and found it to suffer from the same issue. It did not encourage a massive reaction from the people until the climax, making much of the middle parts of the match seem strategically sound from a storytelling standpoint, but lacking in the exciting department. Overall, the important thing was that The Shield look good and continue their upward arc toward main-event stardom. A clean sweep could not have made any bigger statement. I suppose there is a small part of me that wonders what these two teams could have done if they just went all out like Cena and Wyatt did, but I walk away from Payback a happy WWE Network customer hopeful that the kinks get firmly worked out of this internet system)


Join me Wednesday at 5PM for “The Doc Says…” on LOP Radio for “The Five-Star Review” of Payback, Win/Fail from Raw, and the early odds for Money in the Bank Ladder match participants. Joining me will be Triple R, Rob Simmons.

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