Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Payback 2016

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 192 Minutes
Certificate: 12
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: June 27 2016

As annoying as WWE's repeated statements of it being "A New Era" were and are, there's no doubt that the WWE product has improved since WrestleMania 32. The first post-Mania PPV event, Payback 2016, is a fine example with several really good matches, all of which make for a very enjoyable wrestling DVD.

It starts on a sour note, admittedly, with Enzo Amore suffering a frightening concussion that results in the tag match between Enzo/Big Cass and The Vaudevillains being abandoned (fortunately, Amore ultimately needed a few weeks to recover; judging by the impact, Enzo could have been a lot worse off). The always-rowdy Chicago crowd was clearly shook up, as were the announcers. Thankfully, things get back on track in a big way with a great Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn battle, and KO sticks around to provide some amusing commentary on another strong match between Cesaro and The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose is an other worthy match but, on this night, the preceding matches (as well as one later on in the show) overshadow the efforts of Jericho and Ambrose.

Charlotte vs. Natalya, with Ric Flair and Bret Hart at ringside, starts well and evokes memories of their sterling NXT effort in 2014 when both of their legendary fathers were also in their respective corners, but it ends on an abrupt screw-job finish which doesn't go down well at all. Although it's not obvious here, the fact that referee Charles Robinson - a longtime Flair associate - was ultimately not punished on-screen for this blatant robbery of Natalya's title hopes is ridiculous. A long segment involving Vince, Shane and Stephanie McMahon keeps the crowd interested but ends on a low note when Vince eventually decides that both will run Raw and SmackDown, thus making the entire angle pointless. We head in a positive direction again with the main event as Roman Reigns and AJ Styles put on a very good headline bout, and although the two pretend non-finishes were frustrating at the time, they played a key role in the match, and we still get a proper finish in the end, which is the main thing.

There are actually two matches included as DVD extras here from the Kick-Off Show. The first, Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin, takes the strange path of having new monster Corbin lose in his first major singles match on the main roster. Much better is Kalisto vs. Ryback for the United States Championship, which is one of the best matches that both men have ever had in WWE (this was actually Ryback's last WWE match, and he definitely went out in style). Of note here are Ryback hilariously wearing a weight-lifting belt that says "The Pre-Show Stopper", mocking the booking of his character by WWE, and the near-miss which sees Ryback save Kalisto from landing on his head from a dive off the top rope to the floor.

Payback 2016 is the best WWE PPV so far this year; although it's far from flawless, there are plenty of enjoyable matches on display here, and they generally spell a bright future in the so-called "New Era" of WWE. Therefore, this is one of the easier PPV DVDs to recommend from WWE.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Good

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