4/18/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Chris Jericho def. Sami Zayn
Shane McMahon joined the Ambrose Asylum at the top of the show. He made matches for Payback between Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Immediately after that segment, Zayn and Jericho paired off for a singles match. Zayn had most of the early success. He hit a springboard, split-legged moonsault to the floor. He countered a Lionsault and hit a Blue Thunderbomb for a near fall. Jericho responded with a dropkick into the Walls of Jericho. Zayn got to the ropes and hit a leaping DDT through the ropes outside. He got back in the ring to set up for a Helluva Kick, but Jericho hit him with a thumb to the eye and the Codebreaker to win.
Jericho has been on a good run lately, which makes his program with Ambrose more meaningful. At the same time, it’s fine for Zayn to lose to top guys as long as he also establishes himself against lesser opponents here and there.
Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens
The other two men in that interaction faced off in the show’s main event. Even though we have seen Owens and Ambrose work together, they have good chemistry and it’s fun to see them on the main event level. The first big momentum changer of the match was a frogsplash by Owens off of the apron. Ambrose barely recovered to beat the countout, and Owens hit him with a superkick upon reentry. It took Ambrose a while to recover, but he finally hit an elbow drop to Owens, also on the floor.
The two wrestlers traded forearms and elbows in the center of the ring until Ambrose came off of the ropes with a big lariat for a near fall. Owens went for a Pop-Up Powerbomb and Ambrose countered with a hurricanrana. Owens recovered quickly with another superkick for a two count. Owens proceeded to counter a superplex with a package suplex for yet another near fall. Owens went for another frogsplash and landed on Ambrose’s knees. He got to his feet and hit Dirty Deeds to get the win.
Owens sometimes takes a lot of losses, but he looked very good in defeat with so much offense. Ambrose, on the other hand, took a tremendous beating to garner sympathy. He got even more fan support when Jericho ran in after the conclusion and hit a Codebreaker. The show-ending attack is a simple, classic way to build a rivalry. WWE sometimes doesn’t give time for that development in non-main event feuds, so it was good to see here.
AJ Styles Puts One Over Roman Reigns
AJ Styles greeted his old friends Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows backstage with a hug. It surprised me that they were portrayed as so friendly after Anderson and Gallows were introduced in a villainous way last week against the Usos.
Later in the show, Styles addressed Roman Reigns in the ring and told him that he has the ability to have the match of his life to beat Reigns. He added that, unlike Reigns, he can be respected and liked at the same time. As Styles left the ring, Anderson and Gallows ambushed him from behind. Styles denied that he had anything to do with it, but Reigns did not believe it. The heat on Reigns was nuclear. Turning him heel by keeping him exactly the same, but matched up with a fan favorite has been very smart booking by WWE. I am also highly intrigued by the possibility of a WWE version of the Bullet Club.
-Enzo and Cass came out with a solid, edgy promo on the Dudleys. The Dudleys responded by cornering Enzo for most of the match. When he finally reached Cass, it led to a rapid comeback and a big boot. They combined for a rocket launcher to get a very meaningful victory.
-Natalya announced that Bret Hart will be in her corner at Payback for her rematch with Charlotte, which is great news because it means that Hart is healthy enough to appear. They later squared off as part of an eight-woman tag team match. Everyone got a chance to shine a bit, but as with most eight-person tags, the match did not have much of a story. As expected, Natalya finally got her hands on Charlotte and made her tap out to the Sharpshooter.
-The Vaudevillains pulled off an impressive win over The Usos with the Whirling Dirvish. The win put them in the finals of the Tag Team Tournament against Enzo and Cass, and they might even be the favorites to win and take on New Day. The dominance of the two NXT teams does not speak highly of WWE’s previous tag division.
-Cesaro’s appearance on Miz TV became an eight-man tag in which those two joined New Day and the League of Nations. A flurry of finishers led to a Cesaro Neutralizer on Sheamus. Cesaro has been getting wins at a rate foreign to him, which is encouraging. He even came off as funny and charismatic in quoting Roddy Piper from They Live during Miz TV.
-Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin got clean wins over Heath Slater and Fandango, respectively. It’s still very early for both, but even debuts are more interesting when there’s a ready-made angle that creates some investment in the characters. That’s why I am more interested in Corbin and Ziggler than Crews running through the Social Outcasts.