Best: And Now We’re Finally Kinda Sorta Shitting Or Getting Off The Pot!
I think the thing I enjoyed most on Extreme Rules (this is still Extreme Rules, right?) is the behind-the-scenes segment with Ryback using thumbs down and raspberries to insult the Rhodes Brothers. God, I love these goobers. I want to see them wander around in their airbrushed underpants and drug store beanies giving asinine commentary from the desk of the jocks in Revenge Of The Nerds all day.
The tag match felt very much like something we’d see on Raw — a lot of the show did, honestly — but I’m happy we have moved from Step 1 to Step 1B in the Rhodes Brothers breakup. Now instead of being upset and walking away angrily, Cody is upset and saying that Goldust deserves a better tag team partner. If they follow that up on Raw with an actual Step 2, we’re good. If they have another Rhodes Brothers/Ryback match tonight to redo this on television, I’m making fart noises.
What’s the payoff? Cody deciding he DOESN’T deserve a good tag team partner and pairing back up with sad-ass Damien Sandow? I’d be down for that. Rhodes Scholars vs. Goldust and Booker T? Maybe Dusty can show up and give them a variation of the I DON’T WANT YOU TO FIND ANOTHER PAHTNAHHHH.
Best: The Awkward Flag Waving Contest
Okay, sorry, my FAVORITE part of Payback was the Rusev vs. Big E FLAG WAVIN’ SHOWDOWN, where both dudes stood firmly (in their underwear) ANGRILY WAVING A FLAG to show the other guy that THEIR angry flag waving WASN’T AS GOOD. Oh man, it was glorious. Rusev waves the Russian flag like he’s trying to hit a home run, and Big E shows up and stands on the ramp doing the exact same thing. Neither guy knows how to wave a flag and it RULES. I’d hate to see them try to give a haircut.
Best: Rusev vs. Big E, Or
Worst: Rusev vs. Big E Getting Three Minutes
This f*cking match isn’t four minutes long. You’ve got two guys who should have killer momentum — Rusev as the unstoppable new monster and Big E as the dynamic young guy who proved himself by winning championship gold — and you have one beat the other in three minutes. Really? Before the match and even DURING it, I had discussions about what made the most sense for booking … do you do a non-finish to keep both guys looking strong and build to a bigger match, preferably one NOT built around how much they love their nation’s iconography? Do you have Big E get a lucky win to ease the “undefeated” pressure on Rusev and make him a constructive part of your show, and to help Big E not slide into obscurity? Do you have Rusev go over, but in a way that makes him look like he barely survived?
I guess the answer is “you treat Big E like Xavier Woods.” The good news there is that E is way better than Woods, so the three minutes we got were cool as shit. The spear through the ropes, the superkick counter from Rusev, the VADER VS. VADER body attacks that didn’t knock either man down … so much of it was good. Would it have hurt to maybe cut the Bo Dallas segment and given that time to these guys?
Worst: The Hockey Match
Bo Dallas has instant heat for me for referring to the Stanley Cup playoffs as a “match.” A hockey match? This is the Bo Dallas that made everybody stand with their backs to him on NXT, man, not the funny one that shows slides of his vacation and hands out cookies. A HOCKEY MATCH, REALLY.
Best: LOL Kofi Kingston
On the pre-show, the crowd starts chanting C-M-PUNK and Booker T jams his finger in his ear. HOLE ON A MINUTE Y’ALL I GOT BREAKIN’ NEWS. IMPORTANT BREAKIN’ NEWS. KOFI KINGSTON WILL BE WRESTLING BO DALLAS. I don’t know if they timed it like that on purpose, but good lord.
Bo Dallas vs. Kofi Kingston is the least important, least breaking news ever. I did end up loving it, though, because Kane just showed up randomly and beat up Kofi. Did I hit my limit break already? Apparently this was about some INFLAMMATORY TWEETS, but who cares. The pre-show should be LATE BROKEN into matches on every show, and every single one of those matches should begin and end with Kane brutalizing them. Have it happen over and over until Alex Riley is calling himself “reek.”
Way to go, Koaf. Enjoy that pay-per-view payday.
Best: Bad News Barrett Fights No-Selling With No-Selling
Speaking of things we’ve seen a billion times before and everything feeling like Raw, Bad News Barrett defended the Intercontinental Championship against Rob Van Dam. See the trend here? You could’ve searched “WWE 2014” on YouTube and the first 10 videos that popped up would’ve formed Payback.
I don’t like Van Dam’s matches, but he’s been visibly trying the last few weeks, so I won’t throw shade at him. The finish was a little weird, with Barrett Dog Bonering the ringpost, Van Dam taking advantage, then Barrett just countering a splash with his knees and hitting the elbow anyway for the win. It’s everything I hate about RVD matches. His opponent targets the leg or the back to keep him from hitting his moves, and when they’re done he just no-sells everything and hits his moves. He might touch his leg or hold his back after he does it, but it doesn’t keep him from winning. Barrett did that here, hitting a big spot on the post to set up a finish, then doing the opposite of that finish. But hey, he held his arm!
I just wish they’d done a post-match promo with him and had him be all, “I WAS WEARING AN ELBOW PAD. THIS IS WHY WE WEAR ELBOW PADS. YEAH MY ELBOW’D PROBABLY BE MESSED UP HAD I NOT BEEN WEARING AN ELBOW PAD.”