Payback is tonight and it looks to be a good show, although I can’t say I would be spending sixty bucks on it if it weren’t for the Network. With no WWE World Heavyweight Championship match involved it’s missing that “big show” feel for me, especially considering that seeing the second tier titles are defended regularly on Raw, but I’m sure some of the matches will be great. Let’s dive right in-

El Torito vs. Hornswoggle in a Hair vs. Mask match
While I know a lot of people have grown to hate this feud, especially with Torito going over non-little person wrestlers a couple of times already, now that they have two preshow matches under their belt I kind of want to see if they can stretch this feud through an entire year of preshow gimmick matches. Isn’t the preshow just when everyone’s getting their PPV junk food ready anyway? Since Hornswoggle can grow his hair back and Torito can’t put his mask back on (y’know, metaphorically speaking), the bull is winning this one.

Rusev vs. Big E
Since the WWE has made it clear they’re putting more focus on Rusev and less focus on Big E by taking the IC title from him, this one is easy to pick with a Rusev win. Since the Bulgarian-Russian brute hasn’t been catching on with crowds I would like to see Big E win, but I think the WWE will wait a little longer before giving Rusev the ol’ Sweet T. treatment.

Bad News Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam for the IC Title
While I think BNB will win and I WANT him to win, I’d actually be okay with RVD going over here if only so he will have won at least one match of importance since his return almost a year ago. I know that it’s the worst thing ever when a wrestler comes back from retirement or a break and runs all over the younger guys, but RVD seems to have the opposite problem going on. Some guys like Jericho can come back, lose every match and still be able to main event for the title when needed. I don’t thing RVD is in that same category though and I worry he will lose any remaining credibility unless he gets a big win sooner or later.

Sheamus vs. Cesaro for the US Title
This match is a hard one to call. I’ll officially pick Sheamus to win because he just won the title not long ago, though I feel like Cesaro has more of a push going on right now with the new music and all of the mic time they’re giving Heyman. There have been lots of backstage rumblings about Cesaro being one of the big guys that the WWE is going to base the coming year around though, so you never know…

Paige vs. Alicia Fox
As much as I enjoyed Paige in NXT, her Divas Championship run has fallen fairly flat. I know it’s very “IWC” to blame the writers and not the wrestler, but Paige has been booked as an underdog champion with little mic time and it’s not working for her. And to be honest the crowd has little reason to cheer for her other than the fact that she has an awesome looking submission finisher. Alicia on the other hand is giving crowds something to look forward to with all of her unpredictable post match antics. When Paige first won the championship I thought she would hold it at least until AJ came back, but the longer she’s gone the more I think the title is up for grabs.

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing Match
There is little doubt in my mind that Cena will win. While this feud could have been a great way of putting Bray Wyatt over as a threat in the ring, I’m starting to think that the WWE believe that Cena just being in the ring with someone is putting them over. I’ll admit that I’ve lost interest in this feud since Extreme Rules where Cena almost won several times despite it practically being a handicap match for most of the match. The fact that Bray only won due to the deep voice kid who has never been seen again shows that their not interested in making Bray look like he can physically beat Cena. I mean sure, he’s gotten way more exposure as a result, but as a singles competitor he looks like he needs the help of two giant dudes and one gimmicky little kid and even then can just barely win.

Daniel Bryan surrendering the championship???
While this obviously isn’t a match, it’s a huge part of the show so I think it’s worth predicting. As such, I predict that Bryan will NOT surrender the title, and Brie will get out of being fired by challenging Stephanie to a match at the next special event (PPV), Money in the Bank. While that isn’t a match I look forward to in terms of in ring quality, it will be nice to see Steph get her comeuppance without Bryan attacking her and making all wrestling fans look like wife beating misogynists. I don’t really think that the WWE will make Bryan surrender the title for Brie, given how many wrestling fans want to see Bryan wrestle and don’t want to see the Bellas stay employed.

The Shield vs. Evolution in a No Holds Barred Match
Even though this feud started on shaky ground (Orton couldn’t get his world title rematch until they dealt with the Shield?) it has been great to watch. Thinking back to a decade ago when “Evolution” became synonymous with Triple H & pals burying anyone except themselves, it feels good to see them making new, young stars really shine. I especially appreciate that while the golden child is Roman Reigns, all members of Shield are made to look strong. Given Batista the Destroyer’s upcoming movie promotion schedule, I think the Shield will win. Maybe I could see Evolution squeaking by with a win, but it isn’t really Evolution with only Hunter and Orton. I may be assuming too much about Dave leaving, but this whole program has been about putting over the Shield so I honestly see them winning no matter what.

After looking over the card, I can honestly say that Payback definitely falls into the category of pay per view special events that I wouldn’t be watching if it weren’t for the WWE Network. There are a few matches that look good and I’m sure the Shield vs. Evolution will be stellar, but the main draw for me- Bryan and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship- is something I could get by following a recap online.