Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton Sign the Contract for Payback
Rollins refused to sit at the table in the ring with the others, instead standing at the top of the entrance ramp. Ambrose called him out, and Rollins said that while Dean’s sense of humor had never been his thing, it was at least better than listening to Reigns try to form sentences.
Reigns, Ambrose and Orton all signed the contract, but Rollins said that as Director of Operations, Kane had the authority to sign Rollins’ name for him. Kane said that Rollins was correct in theory, but that would require Rollins to be physically unable to sign it himself.
Kane insisted that Rollins sign the contract himself, and Rollins reluctantly approached the ring with J&J Security in tow. Rollins took the contract, saying he needed to look over the terms. Rollins tried to sew discord between Reigns, Ambrose and Orton, telling stories about how much all three have hated each other at times over the years.
Rollins finally entered the ring and signed the contract, handing it to Kane, saying “Thank you, Mr. Obsolete!” Kane and Rollins argued as Ambrose nonchalantly propped the table in the corner. Ambrose took a mic, saying “We all know how this ends anyway. I call dibs on the table.”
Ambrose then picked up Joey Mercury and threw him into the table, but Mercury is so small that the table didn’t break, and he just slid up and back down the table. That was hilarious. Chaos broke out, leaving just Ambrose and Reigns in the ring. They teased a fight, but Orton jumped in and hit Ambrose with an RKO.
Reigns planted Orton with a Superman Punch, then Rollins returned to the ring, hitting a springboard knee strike and a superkick on Reigns. Rollins picked up his title and held it high in the air, his mission of turning his opponents against each other fully accomplished.
Scott’s Thoughts: Contract signings aren’t always the most thrilling segments, but this one was great. Despite the fact that each man knew exactly what Rollins was trying to do, he is such a conniving villain that he managed to succeed in turning them against each other. Also, Ambrose was fantastic here. Casually setting up the table mid-conversation was gold.
Dolph Ziggler def. Bad News Barrett by disqualification
Dolph Ziggler and Neville def. Bad News Barrett and Sheamus by pinfall
Jerry Lawler interviewed Barrett in the ring. Barrett said there’s only one king in WWE, and it certainly isn’t Lawler. Instead of just calling himself a king, Barrett earned the distinction by winning the King of the Ring tournament, and Barrett said that Lawler should not treat him as an equal.
Barrett told Lawler that for the interview to continue, he needed to hear Lawler say “All hail King Barrett.” Lawler refused, and Barrett wound up for a Bullhammer Elbow. Ziggler came in to make the save, telling Barrett that he was more renaissance fair reject than actual royalty.
Barrett used a suplex and a knee drop to earn early two-counts, but Ziggler responded with a dropkick. Ziggler hit a jawbreaker, and Barrett fought back with Winds of Change for another near-fall. Ziggler immediately answered with a Famouser.
As soon as Ziggler rolled into the cover, Sheamus attacked him, causing the disqualification. Sheamus and Barrett beat down Ziggler, with Barrett landing a big boot. Neville ran in to even the odds, and an impromptu tag match formed.
Sheamus landed an Irish Curse backbreaker for a near-fall on Neville, with Barrett tagging in to add a backbreaker of his own. Barrett planted a big boot, tagging in Sheamus for a knee drop. Sheamus continued the attack on Neville’s back, with another Irish Curse.
Sheamus set up for Ten Beats of the Bodhran, but Neville countered with a jawbreaker. Neville sent Sheamus crashing into the ring post, finally reaching Ziggler for the hot tag as Barrett tagged in as well. Ziggler hit clotheslines and a dropkick, following up with a DDT for a near-fall.
Ziggler missed a Famouser, but Ziggler escaped Wastelands and hit a superkick for another two-count. Sheamus tried to make the save, but Neville hit him with a somersault plancha onto the floor. Barrett tried to pin Ziggler, using the ropes for leverage, but Neville pulled his legs off the ropes at the last second, allowing Dolph to kick out. Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag for the pinfall victory.
Scott’s Thoughts: Whether I agree with Barrett eating a clean pinfall on Smackdown or not, I fully enjoyed both of these matches. This was a very entertaining way to kick off the show, and I loved the finish, with Neville preventing Barrett from earning the heel victory. Barrett taking that pin though…ugh…
The New Day def. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro and Ryback (w/ Natalya) by pinfall
Ryback hit an atomic drop, which Kidd followed with a dropkick for a near-fall on Kofi. Cesaro, Kidd and Ryback hit tandem vertical suplexes on New Day, before Kidd hit a between-the-ropes somersault plancha on Woods. Woods responded with a dropkick, tagging in Big E.
Big E drove Kidd repeatedly into the barricade and ring apron, and Woods added a tornado DDT once they returned to the ring. Big E tossed Kidd across the ring with two release overhead belly-to-belly suplexes, earning a near-fall. Ryback tagged in, planting Kofi with a spinebuster.
Cesaro tagged in as Ryback hit a release German suplex. Cesaro hit two running corner uppercuts and a dropkick, tagging in Kidd, who stood on Cesaro’s shoulders to deliver an elbow drop. Big E broke up the pin, but Ryback cleared the ring.
Bray Wyatt’s intro video hit, but Wyatt didn’t appear. Cesaro hit a tornado DDT off the barricade which Big E just completely forgot to sell, resulting in a spot that I’m surprised wasn’t edited out. Kofi took advantage of all the distractions to roll Kidd up, grabbing the tights for the three-count.
Scott’s Thoughts: The end of this match got pretty messy in a hurry. There was too much happening at once, and the botched spot by Big E didn’t help. I’m still enjoying the New Day vs Kidd/Cesaro angle, but the whole Ryback/Wyatt thing is still a mystery to me.
Luke Harper def. Fandango by pinfall; Erick Rowan turns heel
Harper immediately hit a big boot to start the match, following up with a gorilla press slam. Fandango answered with a dropkick and a spinning heel kick, followed by a tornado DDT. Fandango climbed up top, but Harper tossed him to the mat and planted him with a superkick. Harper earned the pinfall with a spinning lariat.
Rowan’s music hit and he entered, staring down Harper in the middle of the ring. Instead of going after Harper, Rowan attacked Fandango, hitting him with a lifting side slam before leaving the ring.
Scott’s Thoughts: I cared about Rowan’s heel turn about as much as the fans in the arena did, which is to say not at all. He’s been a complete non-factor for months, so I guess it couldn’t hurt. Putting Harper and Rowan back together could certainly be a good thing for the tag division.
The Lucha Dragons def. Los Matadores (w/ El Torito) by pinfall
Kalisto hit a hurricanrana, and Sin Cara added a senton, following with a hurricanrana of his own. Los Matadores gained the advantage with a backbreaker on Sin Cara. El Torito took a cheap shot at Sin Cara, and Los Matadores planted him with a dual vertical suplex, earning a near-fall for Fernando.
Sin Cara showed off his always-impressive strength, transitioning a fisherman’s suplex into a Samoan drop. Kalisto and Diego tagged in, with Kalisto hitting a Listo Kick and a spike headscissor driver, forcing Fernando to make the save. Sin Cara tried to dive between the ropes, but caught his foot on the rope, landing awkwardly on the floor in a pretty scary botch.
Diego rolled up Kalisto, but Sin Cara tagged back in. Sin Cara came up empty on a senton bomb, but successfully rolled Diego up with a schoolboy for the three-count. After the match, Diego shoved El Torito.
Scott’s Thoughts: That was not exactly the smoothest match in history.
Naomi (w/ Tamina Snuka) def. Emma by pinfall
Emma earned an early near-fall with a dropkick, but Naomi responded with a neckbreaker. Naomi used a dropkick of her own for two, and Emma earned multiple near-falls with a variety of pinning maneuvers. Naomi reversed one into a backslide, but Emma kicked out. Naomi hit the Rear View for the pinfall. After the match, Tamina planted Emma with a superkick.
Scott’s Thoughts: Naomi looks like a smaller version of Awesome Kong with these new braids. Naomi is the Diddy Kong of wrestling. This match was better than expected, but the Rear View is such a stupid finisher that it lessens any match in which it is used.
– Lana cut an in-ring promo, asking fans not to cheer for her because it angers Rusev. Rusev entered and insisted that Lana leave, so she retreated back up the entrance ramp. Rusev cut a heavily edited promo, making generic threats to end Cena and take back his championship. Rusev challenged Cena to meet him face to face in the ring on Raw this coming Monday.
I can’t be the only one who is not at all on board with the idea of splitting up Rusev and Lana. My gut feeling is that this results in Lana doing something heelish at Payback, and saying she was on board with Rusev all along.