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411’s WWE Payback 2023 Preview

September 2, 2023 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WWE Payback BL TS Image Credit; WWE

Hello 411 guys, gals, enbies, and everyone else! Welcome to 411’s WWE Payback preview! I’m Jeremy Thomas and tonight WWE heads to Pittsburgh for a show that is… certainly taking place in Pittsburgh! Payback is coming on the heels of WWE SummerSlam and the booking does feel a bit like a hangover from the big summer party. That said, all of these matches do have the potential to deliver in big way, even if none of them are likely to have surprising results. We have four title matches on the card, a long-awaited cage match, and LA Knight’s latest chance to take the spotlight. It should be a fun night at the very least and there’s plenty to get into, so let’s get right down to it!

LA Knight vs. The Miz

Image Credit: WWE

LA Knight is WWE’s star on the rise. That’s pretty much indisputable at this point, and WWE is finally catching onto that by giving him a high profile feud and singles match here. Knight and Miz are two guys that you could easily see working together if Knight had stayed a heel; they work well against each other on the mic and they have similar brash attitudes, albeit with their own individual flavors of such. Their promo duels have spotlit what Knight can do and it’s finally given him something to do other than trying to challenge for the US Title and winning battle royals.

All that said, there’s not much mystery here as there’s no logical argument for Miz coming out on top. The A-Lister’s role in this feud is to give Knight someone more seasoned and established to face off with, and to build Knight further up the card. It’s a role Miz is very good at, and while the match will be fine the end result is what matters here — and that’s Knight coming out with a win.


WWE United States Championship Match
Rey Mysterio vs. Austin Theory

Image Credit: WWE

The United States Championship is currently the WWE title that is most mired in the mud right now. That isn’t a slam on Rey Mysterio or Austin Theory, but compared to the Intercontential Title, the two main event titles, the Tag Titles and even the Women’s Titles there is very little heat or direction for the championship because there isn’t a very strong story here. Theory is coming off his own US Championship run which was just kind of…there. Meanwhile, Mysterio won the title in a sort of strange twist where he replaced Santos Escobar in the title match, which may or may not have been a fix to the way their #1 contender’s match went when Mysterio went down due to injury.

The end result is a somewhat heatless match where neither Mysterio nor Theory is going to win or lose much depending on what happens here. It’s great to see Mysterio getting a title run late in his career, and Theory would probably be better served to get away from this title for now. The easy pick is Mysterio to retain so he can move onto other opponents, including perhaps Escobar if they decide to split the lWo in some way.

WINNER: Rey Mysterio (STILL WWE United States Champion)

Steel Cage Match
Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus

Image Credit: WWE

Let’s start here by saying that I’ve enjoyed Becky Lynch’s feud with Trish Stratus. It’s been built on a decent story premise and the two of them have delivered quite nicely thus far. More importantly, it’s helped establish Zoey Starks on the main roster, letting her get comfortable there while fans come to know who she is. All that said, it is definitely time for this feud to end. It probably should have been blown off at SummerSlam; I can also understand that WWE didn’t want to overload that card, but putting Lynch vs. Trish on the afterthought PPV doesn’t seem particularly fair to them.

All that is to say that this should be the final match between them. That means that it’s time for Lynch to get the win to send Stratus back into retirement for now, then move onto something else. This is a cage match so of course we’ll have lots of interference from Stark, but Lynch will either managed to counteract Stark or get some help (perhaps a Lita appearance?) in order to defeat Trish in what should be a perfectly fine cage match.

WINNER: Becky Lynch

WWE Women’s World Championship Match
Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Rodriguez

Image Credit: WWE

I am 100% ecstatic to see Raquel getting her first main roster PPV title match, and in fact her first main roster singles match. I am also equally sure that she is not taking home the title here. While Rodriguez is without question a future women’s division leader in WWE, she’s not there yet. And more to the point, she’s not in a position to defeat the hottest thing going in the women’s division right now. Ripley’s momentum hasn’t slowed down even a tiny bit since she won the Women’s World Championship, nor should it have. She’s come into her own in every way, and there’s no reason for her to lose the title at this point.

All that said, I am excited to see this match even without the suspense regarding who is going to win. Rodriguez is a different kind of challenge for Ripley, who has traditionally towered over her opponents in the division. That should lead to a fresh-seeming matchup, and one with a lot of potential as the few times they locked up in NXT were really good matches. This is a match that will likely be booked to make Raquel seem like a tough opponent for Ripley, but Mami will be leaving with the title barring some weird Judgment Day tension-related shenanigans (which will likely be saved for the Tag Title match).

WINNER: Rhea Ripley (STILL WWE Women’s World Champion)

Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship Steel City Street Fight
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Finn Balor & Damian Priest

Image Credit: WWE

This is the one that’s actually kind of hard for me to predict. One one hand, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have been on a pretty decent run as the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions and I don’t think they’ve reached a point where they need to drop the titles by any stretch. On the other hand, WWE usually likes to have at least one title switch on a show in order to have big news coming out of the PPV and this is the most likely potential switch. The Judgment Day’s tensions have been threatening to explode for a while now, but WWE likely feels like they can keep going with the build and giving Balor and Priest the titles would help sell that story.

Like much of this card, the in-ring action isn’t something I think we need to be worried about at all. All four men are great in the ring and they work off each other very well, as we’ve seen several times over the past several months. It all comes down to how the story is laid out, because this could easily become overbooked if WWE isn’t careful. We’ll certainly get some more miscommunication teased between Balor and Priest, but some interference from Dirty Dom and Rhea is also likely. There’s also the McDonagh factor to consider and how he’ll fit into the whole thing. I’m going with Owens and Zayn retaining to finally cause either Balor or Priest to split off from the Judgment Day, but I see a lot of potential in the title change as well and I wouldn’t be shocked if it happens.

WINNER: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (STILL Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions)

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Image Credit: WWE

Seth Rollins has had a really good run as World Heavyweight Champion thus far. His feud with Finn Balor was an excellent first feud and title defense, and he’s done a lot to try and establish the new title with defenses against up and comers. One might argue that the time has come for him to hand the title off, but I would disagree. Don’t get me wrong; I love Shinsuke Nakamura and I think his heel turn has been well done, as has the storyline about Rollins’ back issues that the King of Strong Style plans to target in their match. But I don’t think it’s his time. Rollins’ title reign is at a healthy 97 days as of this writing, but I do think there are more potential challengers on the heel side than there would be among the babyfaces if Nakamura were to win.

Again, it sort of goes without saying that the in-ring action here will be quite good. They have a good storyline built in with Rollins’ back issues that both stars can exploit; it’s a nice, back to basics wrestling storyline which is what the World Heavyweight Championship should have to contrast it from the Francis Ford Coppola-esque saga that is the Bloodline. There is always the outside chance that WWE decides to pull the trigger on the title switch and perhaps give Rollins a short time off, but I don’t think it’s far more likely that he walks out of Pittsburgh with his title reign intact.

WINNER: Seth Rollins (STILL World Heavyweight Champion)

And that’s all we have for WWE Payback! Again, I don’t see many surprises here but the matches should be worth watching, and that’s enough for one of the C-level PPVs. Thank you as always for reading and remember that we will have live coverage of the show courtesy of Scott Slimmer right here on 411mania.com. Now I’m taking off before John Cena confuses me with Grayson Waller…

Image Courtesy of WWE

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WWE Payback, Jeremy Thomas