Seth Rollins is readying himself for his second pay-per-view title defense at Sunday’s WWE Payback. The new champ will face one of the tougher challenges a strap-holder can have: in the form of a fatal four-way involving Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton.
The odds do seem stacked against Rollins, but that’s just good writing on the part of WWE creative.
Ambrose has been getting the push in the walk-up to Payback, emerging as the last man standing on each of the past two closes to Monday Night Raw. Ambrose won his way into the title match with a non-title win over Rollins on Raw two weeks ago, so it’s clearly the case that WWE wants you to buy stock in Ambrose as the guy who will be the champ at the end of the night.
Orton, by extension, is getting pushed down off the main-event level that he has occupied the past six weeks, with the only question being, does he start dancing with Reigns post-Payback, or is it Ambrose who will be his next feud?
The interesting bet is to see Reigns and Orton matched up for a set that runs for a month or two, since it seems clear that we’re going to end up seeing Reigns challenging Rollins for the WWE title at Summerslam, at which point we can expect to see Brock Lesnar re-enter the picture. Reigns can use the bump that winning a feud with Orton could deliver.
That would leave Ambrose to square off with Rollins for the next couple of months, and as we saw on their recent match on Raw, there’s a lot in terms of chemistry between those two to run with for a couple of big main events.
So the bet is here, and this isn’t even one that seems too much at question, that Rollins leaves Payback with the strap.
Ditto for John Cena, in another one that seems so foregone as to not be much worth discussing. The only question is what happens to Rusev to get him to quit, with the prevailing wisdom leaning in the direction of the finish involving Lana throwing in the towel for the big Bulgarian, leading to a Lana-Rusev split that has her turning face, and otherwise banishes Rusev to the bottom of the mid-card.
It was a nice run for Rusev, who WWE creative was able to turn into a monster heel for a while with smart booking that covered his many weaknesses, on the mic and in the ring, to make good money with him for a nine-month run.
The rest of Payback is a throwback to recent matches on Raw and Smackdown that were good, not great, and don’t hold out much promise for breaking through on the bigger stage of the pay-per-view. Neville is always fun to watch, so seeing him in a PPV rematch with Wade Barrett, who Neville defeated on the Extreme Rules pre-show.
Another Sheamus-Dolph Ziggler match is on the card, and we get a two-out-of-three-falls tag-taem title match between New Day and Tyson Kidd/Cesaro.
A Divas match is also there. Not that many of us care.
Or care much about Bray Wyatt and Ryback, except to see if creative completes the revival of the Wyatt Family that has been foretold the past few weeks.
All eyes are on the main event. Feel free to whatever you need to do until about 10:10 Eastern and tune in then.
– Preview by Chris Graham