I tried this out Wrestlemania XXX and it went well, then tried again with Extreme Rules and people responded positively. So, for the third WWE pay-per-view in a row, I’m offering up my predictions! This Sunday’s Payback comes to you live from Rosemont, IL—a place I’m very familiar with (the arena is just a short drive from where Wizard World Chicago takes place every August). I actually considered buying tickets for this show, but ultimately passed. None of this information is important. On with the predictions! (and don't forget about the Dear Dinosaur campaign on Kickstarter!)
HORNSWOGGLE vs EL TORITO
Hair vs Mask
I had to run to the grocery store during the Wee-LC match at Extreme Rules, so I missed out on what I have been told was a surprisingly fun match. For the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the rivalry between these two, though I do wish that it wasn’t being used to bury 3MB even further. With Torito already beating Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre in the last few weeks, I feel like that positions Hornswoggle to save some face and pick up the win. However, I can’t imagine them unmasking El Torito, unless there is some sort of weird twist that allows him to remain a small man dressed in a bull costume. Removing the mask would pretty much kill the character. So, my money is on El Torito, but with lots of hijinks on both sides. While I’m sure this match will be used for little more than comedy, perhaps it will allow some more ambitious wrestling fans to look into the interesting and often exciting history of Luchas de Apuestas (masks/hair vs masks/hair matches in Mexico).
Prediction: EL TORITO
ADAM ROSE vs JACK SWAGGER
I don’t believe that this match has been officially announced yet, but it is pretty clear that we’ll see Adam Rose and Jack Swagger in some sort of showdown on Sunday. I really loved Adam Rose’s debut and first few weeks in NXT, but I don’t think it translates as well to the larger arenas (except when they were in London). His character has been a hard sell to more casual fans, so he really needs a win here. Chicago is always a hot crowd, so if Rose wins the match and the crowd gets behind him, it will be a big step forward in solidifying the character in less rabid markets. If for some reason there isn’t a match and this is just a confrontation (as no match has been announced), I expect Swagger will have a major beatdown, potentially with a new partner as part of the Real Americans, setting up a match for the two on Monday.
Prediction: ADAM ROSE (if match)
Prediction: JACK SWAGGER (if segment only)
BIG E vs RUSEV
I think there is a huge opportunity for these two men—both are at a crossroads for their character. Rusev has been established as a monster heel, but needs that next step forward into a storyline. Big E has lost a lot of steam in the last few months, so he needs a program to regain fan interest. This match could be the start of something big for both men. I don’t think we will see Rusev lose to Big E just yet—they need to create an uphill battle for Big E to overcome. There have been rumors of a new faction led by Big E featuring Kofi Kingston and R-Truth. This would be a great place to launch this team—or, even better yet, a great place to turn Kingston and Truth heel by having them turn against Big E to join up with Rusev as Lana’s new clients.
ALICIA FOX vs PAIGE ©
I’m really confused by the buildup towards this match. They have done a great job of establishing Paige as a legitimate badass champion and they have done an exceptional job of making Alicia Fox an unhinged narcissist. What they haven’t done, however, is connect the two. The logic of this match is: Fox loses to Paige, so she goes crazy, and because she goes crazy she gets a title shot. I don’t get it. That being said, there is no way that Paige will drop the title this early. I expect her to pick up a win, followed by Fox getting a retaliatory beatdown and nothing else really happens between the two as Paige patiently waits for AJ Lee’s late-summer return.
CESARO vs SHEAMUS ©
United States Championship
I’m really looking forward to this match. Cesaro and Sheamus are both great brawlers and should be put on a very physical , brutal match. I expect a lot of stiff punches and hard slams, but I don’t expect a clean finish. Both of these guys have a lot of momentum going into this match that needs to carry over. If I were booking this, I would have the two fight to a 15-minute draw with neither man being able to out smash the other, setting up a rematch for next month. This allows both to save face while still keeping things interesting. Instead, I would not be surprised to see Cesaro get disqualified, allowing Sheamus to beat him without actually pinning him. Sheamus keeps the belt, but Cesaro remains seemingly unstoppable.
ROB VAN DAM vs WADE BARRETT ©
This match features two of my favorite wrestlers on the current roster, but it’s not a match that I want to see. The reason is that Barrett has only been champion for a month and I don’t see him as a transitional champion so he has to win, which is something that I’m cool with. What I’m not okay with is Rob Van Dam losing yet another match. RVD’s returns to WWE have been marred with high-level feuds that he ultimately loses. I’d really like to see him in a program where he can regain some glory (for example, if Daniel Bryan does vacate the title, I want to see RVD in the World title hunt). But, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for RVD, he isn’t going to get passed Wade Barrett.
Prediction: WADE BARRETT
JOHN CENA vs BRAY WYATT
Last Man Standing
While I’d normally scoff at the idea of two men going at it for three straight pay-per-views, the buildup for this feud has been incredible, especially in the last few weeks as Bray Wyatt seems to have crested in his god-complex. Wyatt is the single most interesting character in the company right now and this should be his coming out moment. The two have split the last two big matches 1-1, with Cena actually getting the better of Wyatt at Extreme Rules (despite losing the match), so I feel like the winner here will come out the true victor of the feud. That will be Bray Wyatt, whose star will only continue to rise. I fully expect Wyatt to headline Wrestlemania in some form next year and that journey will begin with him incapacitating John Cena in here in what could be a very dark and violent match.
Prediction: BRAY WYATT
DANIEL BRYAN and BRIE BELLA vs THE AUTHORITY
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Situation
I really hope WWE doesn’t drop the ball on this situation. Daniel Bryan won’t be back in the ring for a while, but they can keep this storyline moving during his absence. By putting Brie’s job on the line, Bryan has no choice but to give up the belt. That’s perfect—it makes Bryan the underdog again, eventually leading to an even bigger triumph than his Wrestlemania win. It keeps the heat on the Authority and it allows for a new superstar to step into the spotlight. Bryan drops the belt, the Authority tries to give it to their monster Kane, and a new superstar stands up for Bryan and the rest of the roster. My pick? Dolph Ziggler. The fans already love him and he isn’t doing anything else. A Ziggler/Bryan vs Kane/Authority storyline would be huge for the next few months. The crowd would go nuts for it. An even bigger move would be to have CM Punk come to Bryan’s aid, as they are in Punk’s hometown, but I don’t see that happening any time. No matter what, though, I see Bryan reluctantly dropping the belt here to save his wife’s job.
Prediction: THE AUTHORITY
THE SHIELD vs EVOLUTION
Elimination 6-Man Tag Team
These six men completely stole the show at Extreme Rules with a very wild match that I felt elevated all involved. I expect this match to be just as good, if not better. The stipulation of being an elimination match adds an air of desperation that I think we’ll see more on the side of the Shield, who will really step it up when their backs are against the wall. I doubt it will come to this, but can you imagine how insane Seth Rollins will be if it ends up 3-1 with him against all of Evolution? By the rules of rubber match logic, I expect Evolution to win this, but this feud is far from over. The big question is how they will do it without Batista, who will be heading off to do promotion for Guardians of the Galaxy soon.
What are your thoughts? Share them here or tweet them to me at @RyanSchrodt!