2023 WWE Payback was the night of Judgement
WWE’s Payback PPV was the night of Judgement, Judgement Day that is as the dominant heel faction was able to secure the bag and dominate the PPV. Judgement Day has been one of WWE’s most popular acts so it's not a surprise they've been pushed the way they have. The rest of the card featured six matches and compelling segments that had the wrestling world talking.
The night kicked off with Becky Lynch getting payback all pun intended on her long time rival WWE Hall of Fame Trish Stratus. It was a great back and forth match with plenty of action packed spots. Even though Trish is a heel character the fans gave her a standing ovation for putting the match on that she did especially with her being out of the ring as long as he has. The story of the match was the miscommunication between Stratus and her protege Zoey Stark. Stark tried to enter the cage and break the pin. Lynch hit Stark with a Manhandle Slam before catching Stratus and hitting the Manhandle Slam from the top rope for the three count. After the match, Stratus slapped Stark and told her to leave the cage. Instead, Stark closed the cage door and hit Stratus with the Z360 before walking off. This seemed to be an introduction to Stark as a face.
The next match was between The Miz and the fan favorite LA Knight. John Cena who recently came back to WWE was the host of Payback. Cena announced before the match he would be the special guest referee that prompted a great promo segment between Cena and The Miz. The match started. Cena inserted himself in the match getting in both competitors' way at times. Cena broke up a Miz attack in the corner for ignoring the referee's count. Miz took issue but Cena did the same to Knight two times. Miz blindsided Knight as Knight argued with Cena, leading to a few near falls. Miz mocked Cena and went for Cena's "You can't see me" fist drop only to be countered by Knight, who hit the BFT for the victory. After the match, Knight and Cena jawed at each other a bit before shaking hands. It will be interesting to see if this leads to a feud.
Rey Mysterio was able to retain his US championship against Austin Theory in a solid match. One of the biggest moments of the night happened on the Grayson Waller Effect when Cody Rhodes who was the special guest. Rhodes said he used whatever political pull or credit he had to get someone added as the newest member of the Monday Night Raw roster, welcoming Jey Uso to the ring. After acting excited to have Uso as a new guest, Waller was shouting at Uso and ate a superkick. Uso celebrated to end the segment. Uso to Raw is certainly an intriguing wrinkle in the story of The Bloodline and it will be interesting to see where it goes.
The night of The Judgment Day began after an exciting Pittsburgh Street Fight between The Judgement Day and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the undisputed tag titles. It was swift back and forth action with so many exciting spots. Damien Priest hits Owens and Zayn with hockey sticks. Zayn hit Priest with a dive off the desk used for the kickoff. Dom Mysterio was the MVP throughout the night, constantly interfering for his faction. This resulted in Owens putting Mysterio through a table with a swanton from the security guardrails. The action went back to the ring and Zayn put Balor through a table before Owens hit Priest with a stunner to set up Zayn for a Helluva Kick. JD McDonagh ran in to break up the pin. Owens took out McDonagh but was speared through the ringside barricade by Rhea Ripley. Mysterio ran in hitting Zayn with the Money in the Bank briefcase which allowed for the pin and 123 new champs Judgment Day, Dom Mysterio also paid dividends in the Rhea Ripley women's championship match against Raquel Gonzalez. Rodriguez dragged him into the ring, she hit him with a powerslam but the distraction was enough for Ripley to kick Rodriguez in the knee and hit Riptide for the win. Now every member of Judgement Day has a belt.
The next match for the world heavyweight championship Seth Rollins was able to defeat Shinsuke Nakamura. The narrative of this feud is how Rollins has two broken bones in his lower back and Nakamura was pinpointing on that exact injury. Nakamura hit a Landslide from the second rope for another near fall and then a Kinshasa to the back of Rollins' neck. Nakamura waited in the corner to land another Kinshasa but Rollins collapsed instead. Nakamura landed a flurry of strikes, but Rollins hit a Pedigree to put Nakamura down and set up a stomp only to run into a Nakamura kick. A series of reversals followed before Rollins connected with a stomp for the win. After the match Rollins was walked out by the referees. Nakamura attacked Rollins while his back was turned, putting more damage on an already beat up back. It doesn’t seem like this feud is over yet.
WWE Payback was another solid event for WWE. WWE is now entering the third quarter of their year which means they are now building feuds that will eventually lead to Wrestlemania and Payback left some Easter eggs on what we could expect going forward.