Sunday, September 3, 2023

WWE Payback 2023

The WWE emanated from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA this evening as they presented Payback. Tonight’s card featured six matches with four titles contested and was headlined by Seth Rollins defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. The World Heavyweight Championship was of course brought back earlier this summer because Roman Reigns is essentially a part-timer, despite holding the Undisputed Universal Heavyweight Championship, and WWE needs to have a major title to defend on each Premium Live Event. In addition to the headlining title bout, the show also boasted a grudge match between Trish Stratus and Becky Lynch inside an unforgiving steel cage.

Steel Cage Match
Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch
Winner: Becky Lynch via pinfall

Tonight’s card opened with a rare women’s steel cage match pitting “The Man” Becky Lynch against Hall of Famer, Trish Stratus, who made a rather surprising full-time return earlier this year. Initially aligned with each other, Trish became tired of the “sidekick” role and turned her back on Lynch igniting a bitter rivalry between the two. Following an encounter that left Trish Stratus covered in welts and bruises, Zoey Stark decided to become involved in the match. Stark attempted to hold The Man at bay as Trish scaled the cage. Lynch delivered a Manhandle Slam to Stark and then ascended the cage to intercept Trish. Lynch then pulled Trish back down the side of the cage and delivered a Manhandle Slam from the top turnbuckle to solidify the victory. 

The Miz vs. LA Knight 
w/ Special Guest Referee John Cena
Winner: LA Knight

Prior to this match, John Cena made his way to the ring as the host of Payback and decided to announce that he was naming himself the special guest referee for the next match. In the closing moments of the match, The Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale, however, it wasn’t enough to secure the pinfall. Moments later, LA Knight was able to rebound and hit the elbow drop before the Blunt Force Trauma to put away The Miz.

United States Championship
Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Austin Theory
Winner: Rey Mysterio via pinfall

Theory was recently set to defend his title against Santos Escobar until he unleashed a vicious attack on his knee and took him out of the bout. Fellow LWO member Rey Mysterio then stepped in and was able to bring the title home. Tonight, Theory attempted to regain his title as he again squared off with the Hall of Famer, Rey Mysterio. In a rather abrupt match, Mysterio found himself up on the shoulders of Theory in a rather precarious position but turned it to his favor as he rolled up Austin for the pinfall victory.

Undisputed Tag Team Championship Pittsburgh Steel City Street Fight
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs. Finn Balor & Damian Priest
Winners: Finn Balor & Damian Priest via pinfall

Sami Zayn and his tag team partner Kevin Owens, who made his recent return from injury, defended their titles against the Judgement Day’s Finn Balor and Mr. Money In The Bank, Damian Priest, in a no holds barred Pittsburgh Steel City Street Fight where victory could only be attained by pinfall or submission. It appeared that Zayn and Owens were poised to defend their titles late in the match as Balor was the recipient of a Helluva Kick from Sami. As Balor was covered for a pinfall attempt, Dominik Mysterio stormed the ring with Priest’s Money In The Bank briefcase and cracked Zayn over the back. Mysterio then rolled Balor on top of Zayn to secure the pinfall and crown new tag team champions.

Following this match, there was another filler segment on the show as there was an installment of The Grayson Waller Effect with guest Cody Rhodes. Instead of Rhodes making any substantial announcement regarding himself, he introduced “Main Event” Jey Uso as the newest member of the Monday Night RAW roster. Uso came out, received a few insults from Waller, and reciprocated with a Superkick to the face.

RAW Women’s Championship
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez
Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Rhea Ripley had her most physically imposing opponent to date in Raquel Rodriguez set to go toe to toe with her this evening with her coveted championship gold on the line. This match came to it’s merciful conclusion following interference once again by Dominik Mysterio which opened the door for Ripley to execute the Riptide and retain her title.

World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Nakamura has had the World Heavyweight Champion in his crosshairs for the past month, following a shocking surprise attack on him on Monday Night RAW, which culminated in their title bout this evening. Shinsuke Nakamura controlled the tempo for a vast majority of this match as he continued to target Rollins’ back. Late in the match, Rollins surprised Shinsuke with a Pedigree and quickly followed up with The Stomp to retain his title.

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