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411’s WWE Payback 2020 Preview

August 30, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WWE Payback

Hello 411maniacs, and welcome to 411’s WWE Payback 2020 preview! I’m Jeremy Thomas as usual, and man it seems like we did this just last we–oh. Right. Well, that was last Sunday, and this is Payback weekend! we’re going to take a look at WWE’s big summer PPV in SummerSlam. WWE has given us a gigantic build of one whole Raw and Smackdown to get to now, so what we have here are continuations of feuds, matches that didn’t make it onto SummerSlam and a couple of thrown-together bouts. But there’s still a lot to get into, so without further ado…let’s do this.

[Jeremy Note: The Kickoff Show match was announced after the preview had been finished, but I’m nothing if not a completist so enjoy a post-published addition below.]

Kickoff Show Match
The Riott Squad vs. The IIconics

I for one am very happy to see Ruby Riott back in something resembling a story, and one that’s even resulted in a win or two for her. Riott’s reunion with Liv Morgan has frankly been what both women have needed — at least, if we assume that WWE never really intended to go anywhere with that whole Liv/Lana thing. This is a mini-feud that is giving both teams something to do, and while the matches aren’t exactly knocking anyone’s socks off it’s doing something that WWE desperately has to do: build up the women’s divisions so that there are more potential contenders for their three (and tag team) titles. Both teams could really use this win but with the babyfaces coming off victorious last Monday on Raw, I’m going to lean toward Billie Kay and Peyton Royce picking up a cheap win here.

WINNER: The IIconics

Big E vs. Sheamus

WWE has been overtly getting behind Big E. in an interesting way, as they’re basically going fairly far into the idea of “Big E. is getting a push” as an actual storyline on-screen. They haven’t used those words obviously; Big E. is just going for singles glory and that’s led him into a few singles matches as a result. But still, that is kind of the gist of what they’re saying with him on air. The New Day member has deserved a solid singles run for a while now of course, and that led into him defeating Sheamus a couple of weeks ago on Smackdown which in turn led to this match. These are two big man that can deliver in the ring, but this is also a match without much build behind it so it is kind of a throwaway bout (not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that). I see no reason for E. not to pick up the win here, as he’s got the momentum on his side and his push certainly isn’t going to stop with a guy he’s already beaten.

WINNER: Big E.

Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin

This is the first of two matches featuring main roster newcomers in their first “official” (i.e. non-Royal Rumble, non-Survivor Series) PPV matches. Matt Riddle’s been…fine since he made his way up to Smackdown. He’s done some solid work here and WWE obviously has big things in mind for him. I’m not Riddle’s biggest fan, to be fair; I don’t particularly dislike him, but I’m not exactly all in on his prospects either. But WWE creative does not seem to share my opinions, and that’s fine. Thus, this match. Riddle has been in a feud with Corbin as the King set a bounty on Riddle and is intent on humiliating Riddle at every turn. If WWE wanted me to care about Matt Riddle’s first feud, they could have done better than picking Corbin who has been improved in his “King” gimmick but still not anyone I turn the channel to see by any measure. The match itself should be solid, but with WWE seeming to wanting more than just a flashy debut and drop back into the lower card for the Original Bro, this really has to go Riddle’s way unless the feud is continuing. And I really, really hope this feud is not continuing.

WINNER: Matt Riddle

Dominik & Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins & Murphy

Speaking of feuds continuing, we already know that this one is going past Payback. It’s already been announced that Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins will face off in a one-on-one match on Monday’s Raw. That makes this a stopgap in the feud. Whether it ends at Raw or not, it’s really hard not to see how the Mysterios pick up the win here. Rey and Dominik have basically been Rollins’ punching bags, and you have to give it up for the good guys at some point. Dominik showed at SummerSlam that he has a fair amount of potential and everyone else is great, so this should be enjoyable. Rollins and Murphy should take the loss here, likely with Murphy eating the pin, and leading into Monday where they probably (?) settle it once and for all.

WINNER: Dominik & Rey Mysterio

WWE United States Championship Match
Apollo Crews vs. Bobby Lashley

Remember when everyone thought that the demotion of Paul Heyman meant that Apollo Crews was going to be buried? That was about two weeks after Crews won the title, and he’s now held it a week over three months. During that time, he’s held his own against MVP and the rest of The Hurt Business with multiple wins over both Shelton Banjamin and MVP. Whatever the higher-ups do think of Crews, they’ve given him a chance to shine and I think he’s made the most of it. But his US Title reign probably stops here. Crews has been fairly dominant in this feud, and the Hurt Business could really use the win here. When you factor in that this is Bobby Lashley, who was booked competitively against Drew McIntyre just a couple of months ago at Backlash, I think that you have to give it to the big(ger) guy. This won’t be the best match on the card by any measure, and will likely end via some Hurt Business shenanigans, but it should be fairly watchable.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley (NEW WWE United States Champion)

Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little perplexed by what WWE is doing in booking this match. Keith Lee is a guy that literally just arrived on the Raw roster and would seem to be someone WWE wants to book as a big deal. But by the same token, are they really willing to make him such a big deal that he beats Randy Orton in his first singles PPV match as a main roster talent? Orton has been red hot as a heel, and he had a very good match with Drew McIntyre at SummerSlam in a feud that has every reason to continue, and probably will. Coming off a SummerSlam loss, it would seem counterintuitive to have Orton lose here if he’s going to keep challenging for the title. On the other hand, a loss for Lee would, much like Riddle, send him back down into the midcard or lower. Part of me believes that Vince McMahon believes a loss to Randy Orton is like a win against most other guys in terms of credibility, and that could make sense depending on how they booked it. But WWE has had a spotty track record over the last few years of putting guys over via losses. I’m going way out on a limb here and saying Lee picks up the win, perhaps by some kind of McIntyre involvement. I am very much excited to see what Lee can do against a guy like Orton, but this could go any which way depending on how the boss wants it laid out.

WINNER: Keith Lee

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax

This is probably the hardest match for me to call, because of the challengers. After Sasha Banks lost her Raw Women’s Championship to Asuka at SummerSlam, we were clearly moving into the “heel partners feud” portion of the Sasha/Bayley storyline. Logic would dictate that they lose their tag team titles next — but Baszler and Jax would be a strange choice for them to lose the titles to, to say the least. Those two are in their own feud, so would WWE really take the straps off one set of feuding partners and put them on another? Honestly, yes. Baszler and Jax have more of a Kurt Angle and Chris Whats-His-Name vibe that works for potential tag teams. Taking the titles off Banks and Bayley advances their feud, and putting them on Baszler and Jax potentially advances theirs. I’m not ecstatic about the idea of Nia Jax as a tag team champion, but if it moves Bayley and Banks to the next stage of their feud and gives Baszler something fun to do I’m in.

WINNER: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (NEW WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions)

WWE Universal Championship Match
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt

I would have had some conflicted thoughts on how this was going to go before Friday night. Bringing back Roman Reigns at SummerSlam was one of the handful of things WWE could do that would really capture fans’ attention, and it worked well. I was wondering if it was too early to throw him into a Universal Championship match, though. Strowman and The Fiend’s feud is pretty well played out at this point, and I expected a last match between them as filler. But putting Reigns had me unsure — does Wyatt beat Reigns in the latter’s first match back? It seems unlikely, but then why not have Reigns chase the title a bit? Then Friday happened, and it’s all clear. WWE has doubled down on getting fans attention by turning Reigns heel at last, with Paul Heyman as his ally. Appearently that’s going to lead to The Fiend going babyface, and I have a LOT of thoughts on that. Either way, that makes this a slam dunk. You don’t bring back Roman Reigns, turn him heel, and give him the guy who managed Brock Lesnar to multiple title reigns just before booking him to lose his first match back. Reigns will win, probably in a very dickish way, and we have a new Universal Champion (RIP Wyatt’s title reign).

WINNER: Roman Reigns (NEW WWE Universal Champion)

And that’s all we have for Payback 2020! This isn’t the most must-see card on WWE’s schedule, but it’s not bad. The show is relying strongly on Reigns’ return and the new guys in Riddle and Lee; as long as WWE gets those right, the show should be a success and set up some fun stuff for Clash of Champions. If they don’t — well, it’ll probably still better than the RETRIBUTION stuff, right? …right?

Anyway, thanks once again for reading, and remember that we will have live coverage of WWE Payback right here on 411mania.com. If you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting with my new advocate…

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WWE Payback, Jeremy Thomas