Just seven days after Summerslam, WWE are back with another major event on the WWE Network.
With titles on the line and revenge on the menu, who will earn Payback on Sunday?
As ever, we’ve asked members of our team to stick their necks out and pick the winners.
WWE Universal title, No Holds Barred: The Fiend (c) vs Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns
Liam Happe: These three have been beating the stuffing out of one another in various combinations for five years now, and while the storyline situation can be beyond tedious for them the in-ring results are often rewarding when they’re allowed to just go out there and hoss-fight.
Reigns seemingly going heel by aligning with Paul Heyman certainly adds a degree of freshness to it, and the sooner we move away from the confusing Fiend-Strowman mess that brought diminishing returns to the cinematic era, the better. I think it also means there can only be one winner, too. Reigns to get the belt and kickstart this new chapter for him.
Chris Napier: The No Hold Barred stipulation seems weird given that triple threat matches are always effectively street fights anyway. This should be fun, with the current iteration of Reigns looking like an absolute tank and back to his badass ways from the early Shield days. Reigns and Strowman have good chemistry and Fiend makes an interesting X-factor if they can avoid the dull ‘no selling finisher spam.’
I think Roman gets the belt here, probably pinning Strowman to draw a line under his disappointing reign and the interminable feud with the Fiend. Badass Roman as champion interests me more than anything with the Universal belt has in a long time.
Cameron Bennett: I’m going with Fiend. He has to win because three underwhelming Wyatt title reigns is something my little Bray Wyatt fanboy heart cannot take. That being said, I’m already loving heel Reigns and think he should get the title soon, but not after a week!
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Bayley & Sasha Banks (c) vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Liam: It has always felt like the Bayley/Sasha storyline would have been equally great without the tag titles being added, and I’m beyond caring about anything involving Nia. Champs retain, move onto a duo who could actually use the titles to raise their own profile, and have Shayna destroy Nia ASAP.
Chris: It feels like the writing is on the wall for the Golden Role Models but I’m totally not sold on Shayna and Nia as the challengers of the week. Also, with no real faces in this matchup, there’s almost no emotional involvement so this is not the place to make the switch. Bayley gets the pin after pretty much sacrificing Sasha to some massive double team to keep the tension up.
Cameron: I’m going with the Golden Role Models as I imagine Baszler and Jax will quickly implode and beat 10 shades of faecal matter out of each other.
WWE United States Championship: Apollo Crews (c) vs Bobby Lashley
Liam: It feels like this has been going on forever. Is Crews going to join Hurt Business or what!? Either way, it makes very little sense to end his reign here in favour of fortysomething utility player Lashley.
Chris: Crews’ reign has been fine, but hardly. It feels like the Hurt Business needs something else to justify their existence so either Lashley wins here or they transition to a tag feud with the Street Profits – which I’d generally prefer. I’d love to see Apollo win, but I think they have no idea what to do with him, so I think the title goes to the bigger guy in Default Vince Booking.
Cameron: At Summerslam I predicted that Crews would drop the title to MVP and I was wrong so I’m going to bet against Crews again and go Lashley. I have to be right eventually!
Keith Lee vs Randy Orton
Liam: If Lee isn’t on an express route to face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, they may as well have left him in NXT where he was doing absolutely fine. So, surely he gets the ‘new arrival bounce’ here and claims a pretty big scalp. At this stage, Orton can sustain any number of high profile losses and still be a credible main eventer months later.
Chris: This is a prime example of WWE booking themselves into a corner. You’ve got your top heel coming off a somewhat surprising loss and a box-fresh, super popular face who needs to hit the ground running. Neither of these guys should lose.
I suspect the concussed Drew McIntyre will play a part in the finish. Costing a dominant Lee the victory is the more interesting outcome and keeps Keith look strong while Orton’s cache as a sneaky veteran is intact.
Cameron: Keith has to win here, right? Two inconclusive finishes this early in his main roster career, even against a guy like Orton, would be a bad thing!
Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs Seth Rollins & Buddy Murphy
Liam: This feud remains compelling, ridiculous occasional stipulation or not. But the Mysterio family are gonna need a little revenge soon or else will become the 4000th and 4001st WWE babyfaces to be portrayed as utter schmucks. My guess is that a Dominik pin on Murphy is the most productive result in every sense.
Chris: Dominick did well in his debut match and adding Rey & Murphy into a tag means this should be pretty good. I expected La Familia Mysterio to get their win back, probably with Dominick getting his first pin on poor Buddy Murphy. I wonder if Buddy is going to get out from under Seth and have a breakout feud? Not just yet though.
Cameron: My guess is a no contest due to interference from Retribution and the reveal of one member (Dijakovic).
Matt Riddle vs King Corbin
Liam: One winner here. Riddle for the profile-raising victory over WWE’s create-a-heel.
Chris: Corbin is surely just a speedbump for Riddle’s rise, reduced to an annoying gatekeeper to the main event scene. I expect Chad Gable to play some sort of a part in this, ideally to turn on Corbin. Riddle wins.
Cameron: Shorty G-based shenanigans will allow King Corbin to pick up the win and renationalise the railways (wrong Corbin? Oh…).