Shore's WWE Payback preview and predictions: C.M. Punk vs. Chris Jericho, John Cena vs. Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match for the WWE Championship, Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Hvt. Championship
By Chris Shore
The following predictions are made with no prior knowledge of the planned finishes.
John Cena vs. Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell Match for the WWE Championship: WWE had a good final sell for the match on Monday night, but it was too little, too late for me. The booking for this feud has been rough around the edges from the beginning, and this match is no different. This started as an ambulance match challenge, and it will end with an ambulance match, probably after Cena wins the first match and Ryback puts Cena through a number of tables to win the second match.
That's too much work to get to an ambulance match, especially when you consider the chances that WWE lets John Cena get shoved into the back of an ambulance when they hardly let him get pinned. A Ryback win would keep this feud alive, but for what purpose other than to have them face again through SummerSlam? I don't want to see that, and I get the feeling most fans are done with this feud too. Look for Cena to win here and Ryback to kill someone on Monday to get his heat back.
Prediction: John Cena retains the WWE Championship.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship: The match we waited months for might be the least inspired match on the card (though the IC triple threat is pretty bad too.) WWE did the right thing keeping Ziggler away while he healed from the concussion, but there are things they could have done to make this a better story for when he returned. Instead, Del Rio and Big E Langston traded some wins and then Ziggler just showed up on Raw and jobbed out on Smackdown. Not a way to put heat on a match. Ziggler wins because this match is a place holder until they find something more interesting.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler retains the World Heavyweight Championship.
Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk: This is the most difficult, and therefore intriguing, match on the show. Punk is going to show up in Chicago. There has been speculation, including from Dot Net new staffer CJ Tuttle, that Punk might not show to draw heat, but I give that as close to zero chance as possible. Punk can get all the heat he needs from a microphone and three minutes of work. Using a cheap no show gimmick would blow up mightily in both his, and WWE's, faces.
So once Punk shows up, what happens? There are a million ways this can go. Jason Powell predicted the double turn, but I'm only going to meet him halfway. I think Punk turns, but saves Jericho from Curtis Axel's post-match attack. I'm picking that more to be different than because of any assurance in its correctness. This match is a total toss-up, and ought to steal the show both from a work-rate, and a finish, standpoint.
Prediction: CM Punk defeats Chris Jericho.
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton for the WWE Tag Team Championships: Jake Barnett made some good points in the All Access Smackdown Review this week about the Shield coming back strong tonight after their first six-man loss on Friday's show. Even though that doesn't make up for the poor planning for having the Shield lose without fanfare, it is a good, and probable idea.
The question then remains: Will Daniel Bryan turn on Randy Orton? I hope not. Bryan is as over as anybody in WWE right now, and WWE needs another top babyface because they lack in that area, even with an expected Punk babyface turn expected tonight as well. I'm afraid Vince can't lay off turning Bryan, so I expect him to turn on Orton in some way tonight, even if I don't want to see it. Either way, look for Orton and Bryan to end up feuding through SummerSlam.
Prediction: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns retain the WWE Tag Team Championships.
Dean Ambrose vs. Kane for the United States Championship.
Much like the tag title match, there's no reason to expect a title change here. Unlike the tag title match, there isn't anything to look for here besides a possibly good match that nobody is expecting. Kane can have great matches with the right guy, I'm just not convinced Ambrose is that guy.
Prediction: Dean Ambrose retains the United States Championship
Wade Barrett vs. Curtis Axel vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship: Axel's replacement of the injured Fandango shows that this match was more about getting the title off Barrett than it was putting it on Fandango. There's been a ton of discussion over whether this is a downgrade for Axel. I don't know that winning the title is much of a downgrade, but it sure isn't an upgrade considering how bad both the title and the other competitors in this match have been damaged. Hopefully getting the strap off Barrett leads to him doing more with the company, and maybe Miz can make another movie…or something.
Prediction: Curtis Axel wins the Intercontinental Championship.
Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee for the Divas Championship. It took a little doing, but I'm interested in the Divas once again, Yes, Kaitlyn looks like a dope for falling for the secret admirer gimmick, but I think it works OK if you forgive that one spot. I picked Kaitlyn to win in Dot Net Weekly, but I'm going to switch and have AJ win here, leading to a further breakdown of Kaitlyn and her eventual recruitment, because of her emotional instability, into the debuting Wyatt Family. Watching AJ deal with crazy could be a ton of fun.
Prediction: AJ Lee wins the Divas Championship.
Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow:
The babyface always wins the pre-show match as an attempt to get people to buy the PPV. Couple that with this suddenly being renamed the PPV "kick-off" and you see a giant foot flying through the air for a Sheamus victory.
Prediction: Sheamus kicks Sandow's head off.
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